Postal and air freight services to and from Singapore have taken a hit in recent months due to flight restrictions and higher freight rates caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
To tackle the situation, Singapore Post (SingPost) has initiated a hiring freeze, except for essential roles, and will also be reducing the pay of some of its upper-level management employees from next month.
Industry experts said air freight rates had tripled in the last few weeks due to a sharp fall in cargo space on passenger flights, since many of the flights to virus-hit countries have been suspended.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific cancelled more than three-quarters of its weekly flights.
Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Dr Raymon Krishnan, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Society, said rates from China to Singapore are about $6 to $7 per kg, up from about $2 per kg. Dr Krishnan said: "Because of flight cancellations, the decrease in air freight capacities takes a lot of cargo space out of circulation."
This would affect postal services like SingPost, he said, which also handles e-commerce shipments for Singapore and the region.
For SingPost, disruptions to overseas delivery services have been the main bugbear since the outbreak started.
A SingPost spokesman said: "Some overseas delivery services have been affected, largely due to measures and restrictions taken by other countries and airlines, ranging from factory output to lack of cross-border air transport."
He said the new measures, including a hiring freeze, will help the company ride out the effects of the outbreak on the domestic and global economy.
"By adjusting the wages of senior management and staff, we will be better positioned to weather the storm, as well as take care of our rank-and-file team members, many of whom are front-liners such as postmen, couriers and post office staff," he said.
SingPost's group chief executive officer Paul Coutts said in an internal message to staff yesterday that a hiring freeze would be implemented with immediate effect, and some upper-level management employees will also have their pay cut from next month.
Mr Coutts said that since the Government and leading businesses had taken the lead in implementing policies to offset the impact of the outbreak, SingPost will "in a show of solidarity" also implement measures in this uncertain and challenging environment.
In his message, Mr Coutts said that from April 1, all employees who are senior vice-presidents and above at SingPost will have their pay reduced by 5 per cent.
Those ranked assistant vice-president and above will also have their pay and promotion increments frozen. Staff who are ranked senior managers and below will not be affected by the new measures.
Mr Coutts said the temporary measures will be reviewed on a quarterly basis by the management committee.