S'pore's aviation sector to see better pay, more jobs: Ng Chee Meng

It will take the sector three to six more months to recover from a labour shortage, said Mr Ng Chee Meng. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Aviation workers can look forward to better wages and work prospects within the next 12 to 24 months, as the sector picks up momentum, buoyed by the easing of global travel curbs that sought to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Ng Chee Meng expressed his hopes for the rebound of the hard-hit sector to continue during a May Day appreciation event for aviation workers organised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Saturday (May 7).

Mr Ng's comments come as employers in the sector, together with the CAAS and employee unions, are pulling out all the stops to ramp up manpower to support the increase in air passenger traffic in the coming months.

This includes a job fair on May 27 and 28, which will see over 20 participating aviation companies engage job seekers and students on a range of job opportunities ranging from service, operations and engineering to new careers in technology and sustainability, said the CAAS in a statement after the event.

Speaking to the media at the sidelines of the appreciation event, which was held at a canteen for aviation workers located in Changi Airport, Mr Ng said he was glad that flights have begun to come in with increasing frequency, after a tumultuous two years.

He also said aviation workers now face a "happy problem" arising from the recovery, as they are "somewhat stretched and overworked" amid a labour shortage, which he estimated would take the sector three to six more months to recover from.

Added Mr Ng: "(When) we welcome the return of workers, I think we will have better opportunities for better businesses, and I think the aviation outlook will be so much brighter."

Mr Ng also noted that various support programmes are in place to help workers and position Singapore as an air hub.

For instance, the One AirHub Community support group on messaging application Telegram is an initiative supported by the 10 unions that constitute the aviation and aerospace cluster of the NTUC.

A group of 70 CAAS officers also formed a group called Friends for Aviation to support aviation workers who bore the brunt of stringent safe management measures back in June last year.

In the same month it was formed, the group arranged a donation drive to give ez-link cards worth $50 each to 1,000 aviation front-line workers - especially vulnerable workers like cleaners and trolley handlers - after a Covid-19 cluster was detected at Changi Airport last May.

"We thought we could do something small, (to) just... put together some goodie bags, (and) some activities to bring some cheer to the workers," said Friends For Aviation co-founder Angela Ng, who is also a deputy director in CAAS' aviation industry division.

"They are a bit unseen and unheard but they are very, very critical to the running of the airport," she added.

Ms Ng said the group wishes to continue to bring cheer to fellow airport workers, even as air traffic approaches pre-Covid-19 numbers.

In fact, CAAS and the group will provide 3,000 meals and 3,000 goodie bags this week to thank aviation workers for working during the May Day-Hari Raya Puasa long weekend to support the rise in traffic.

Also at the event were Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and NTUC deputy secretary-general; CAAS chairman Edmund Cheng and the chief executives of Changi Airport Group, dnata, Sats and SIA Engineering Company.

In its statement, the CAAS also said the job fair, titled OneAviation Careers, will be held at Suntec City Convention Centre.

Organised by the civil aviation authority in partnership with the Employment and Employability Institute, NTUC and statutory board Workforce Singapore, participating firms include Singapore Airlines, airport services firm Sats, ground handler dnata, Changi Airport Group and Rolls Royce.

Job seekers will be able to sign up for on-site interviews conducted by employers at the event.

The event is part of a spate of good news that indicate a resurgent sector in recent months and beyond.

According to the CAAS, air passenger volume hit almost 40 per cent of pre-Covid-19 figures in end-April, more than double the figures seen the previous month, as Singapore's borders were reopened to all vaccinated travellers from April 1.

The basic salaries of Singapore Airlines pilots, which were first cut in the early stages of the pandemic, will also be gradually restored to pre-Covid-19 levels by next January as demand for air travel returns with the reopening of borders around the world.

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