SIA training programmes draw strong interest from companies

Efforts to boost revenue or reduce costs help airline cut losses to $300 million a month

Singapore Airlines will focus on strengthening its financial position through schemes such as the sale or leasing of its aircraft.
Singapore Airlines will focus on strengthening its financial position through schemes such as the sale or leasing of its aircraft.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

More than 50 organisations have expressed interest in Singapore Airlines' (SIA) training programmes launched last week which will see the national carrier's trainers work with companies to design courses and instruct their employees in areas such as customer service.

SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong provided the update yesterday, as he laid out the group's business strategy after it reported nearly $3.5 billion in losses for the six months to September last Friday.

He said the new training programmes were one of SIA's innovations to cope with the impact of the coronavirus on the airline.

This, together with cost-cutting measures and other ventures to increase revenue, like the hugely popular A-380 dining experience that was quickly sold out recently, has enabled the airline to reduce its bleeding from a rate of about $350 million a month in July to $300 million now.

Mr Goh said: "We will continue to be very nimble and flexible to see what other opportunities the market may bring... The market is very dynamic at the moment."

The losses suffered in the six months to September have been primarily attributed to the massive fall in passenger numbers since Covid-19 hit. The group was operating at about 9.5 per cent of pre-Covid-19 passenger capacity last month, and hopes for it to return to 16 per cent by the end of the year.

It has relied on the transport of cargo to mitigate the fallout, even removing seats on planes to increase storage space on flights that are half-empty.

Mr Goh said he remained hopeful that with new Covid-19 quick-testing regimes, more passenger flights could take to the skies.

In particular, the upcoming air travel bubble with Hong Kong, which will allow people on both sides to travel without quarantine, stay-home notices or controlled itineraries, is "a very good example of how we can actually open up and travel in a safe manner", he said.

"All of these travel arrangements are supported by advances in testing protocols and the ability to test in the market. We believe that the continuous investment in all these test schemes and approaches would further ease travel going forward."

But he also cautioned that a second or third virus wave would wipe out these achievements.

In the meantime, SIA will focus on strengthening its financial position through schemes like the sale or leasing of its aircraft, although it has yet to decide whether to issue an additional $6.2 billion worth of mandatory convertible bonds.

It will also strive for operations to be more environmentally sustainable, in line with its commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

For example, it is looking at using more biodegradable material like bamboo for its cutlery and paper for its containers, which can reduce the weight of food trays by more than 50 per cent.

It has also installed more than 9,700 solar panels at its offices.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2020, with the headline 'SIA training programmes draw strong interest from companies'. Print Edition | Subscribe