Budget debate: $500 million package to help S'pore's aviation sector recover from Covid-19

The OneAviation Resilience Package will enable the sector to increase core capabilities and capacity to manage increased passenger volume, said Transport Minister S Iswaran. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The aviation sector will get a fresh injection of $500 million to further support recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is the latest in a slew of support measures for the sector since borders were shut in March 2020.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran said during his ministry's budget debate on Wednesday (March 9) that the OneAviation Resilience Package will enable the sector to increase core capabilities and capacity to manage increased traveller volumes.

"The aviation sector plays a crucial role in ensuring Singapore's position as a global trading and business hub," said Mr Iswaran.

"Therefore, it is critical that we continue to support companies and workers in the sector, so that we can emerge stronger, and reclaim Changi's status as an international aviation hub."

The package comprises three key components - manpower support; support to enable safe air travel and protect aviation workers and the wider community; and industry and workforce transformation support.

The funding for manpower support will take up $60 million of the total amount.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) said aviation companies will receive wage support via an extension of the Aviation Workforce Retention Grant for another six months, covering 10 per cent of the wages paid to local employees from April to September this year. This is subject to a cap of $4,600 of gross monthly wages per employee.

The funding for cost relief and support for public health safeguards will add up to $390 million. MOT said it will extend rebates on fees and charges payable by airlines and ground handlers at the two airports - Changi Airport and Seletar Airport - for six months initially. It will then review the need for further support based on the extent of air travel recovery.

More details about rebates for other aviation firms will be shared with eligible companies.

"We will also continue to defray the cost of implementing public health and safe management measures at the airport," said MOT.

"This will enable safe air travel and protect our aviation workers and the wider community."

Meanwhile, the funding for industry and workforce transformation support will add up to $50 million. Companies in the sector will get funding support through the Aviation Development Fund for initiatives to innovate, improve productivity and transform their workforce.

MOT said the funding for these will help companies emerge stronger in the post-pandemic world. Examples of such efforts include the deployment of autonomous and digital technologies to optimise airport operations and improve manpower productivity.

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The current package adds to earlier initiatives.

In Budget 2020, announced in February 2020, then Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the $112 million Aviation Sector Assistance Package.

The Government then announced an additional $187 million worth of support for the aviation sector in August 2020. A further $84 million worth of support measures were announced in December 2020.

In Budget 2021, the Government announced the $870 million OneAviation Support Package to help companies preserve core capabilities and tide over the crisis. It then announced the $130 million Aviation Workforce Retention Grant in September to provide continued wage support for aviation firms.

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