Aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney to hire 250 people in S'pore over a year after Covid-19 layoffs

Pratt & Whitney had retrenched 400 staff at five of its six facilities in Singapore in August last year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney will hire 250 new staff by the end of the year, in a move that shows that the aviation and aerospace sector is slowly getting back on its feet.

The United States-based firm had retrenched 400 staff at five of its six facilities here in August last year due to the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the industry.

It had employed about 2,000 workers in Singapore.

Mr Tim Cormier, Pratt & Whitney's vice-president of aftermarket operations in Asia-Pacific, told The Straits Times on Friday (Oct 8) that the firm had started hiring workers in the last few months.

Most of the new hires will be hourly workforce technicians and production associates, he said, but they will be complemented by salaried workforce made up of degree and diploma holders as well.

Asked whether the new staff are filling up the roles left by those who were retrenched or if they are taking on new roles, Mr Cormier said they are doing both.

"There is some volume-related hiring we need to do, which would lend itself to bringing back some of the employees, or at the very least, some of the same skill sets that we have.

"But our eyes are trained on the future... to do that we need to transform our business. So that will require a different skill set."

Thus, the firm is looking to bring in data analysts and skilled workers with expertise in technology such as automation, among others, said Mr Cormier.

He acknowledged that the firm's total employment numbers will still be lower than before the pandemic even after the new hires join, but said the firm will continue to grow its workforce beyond this year to get back to previous employment levels.

The Covid-19 outbreaks shut borders and grounded aircraft for months last year, resulting in aviation and aerospace firms worldwide laying off workers at scale.

But recovery is now well under way in Europe, the United States and China, as countries make progress in vaccinating their populations against Covid-19.

Singapore has also made its most major move yet to reopen its borders since the onset of the pandemic. On Saturday, Transport Minister S. Iswaran said the Republic will open up to vaccinated travellers from nine countries, including the US and Britain, in the coming weeks.

Mr Cormier expects a full recovery for the international aviation sector in 2024.

"It's quite an exciting time. It's not something we anticipated at the beginning of the pandemic," he said.

"But to be in this situation where we get to grow our workforce... it's a fun time for us."

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