Hundreds of workers join aviation industry as firms ramp up recruitment

The aviation sector's hiring push comes as Changi Airport tries to avoid manpower shortages that have plagued other airports. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - The bulk of 600 initial job vacancies at ground handler Sats have been filled as the firm and its counterparts at Changi Airport ramp up hiring in preparation for further recovery in air traffic.

Sats, the main ground handler at Changi Airport, told The Straits Times that it has been hiring workers who support passenger operations and meal production, among others.

Other firms - dnata, Certis and Scoot - are also in the midst of hiring hundreds of workers as they process applications from a recent career fair.

The push to hire more workers comes as the airport bids to avoid manpower shortages that have triggered long queues and flight cancellations at other airports in recent months. In Singapore, the number of air travellers and visitors are at their highest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, although a full recovery remains some distance away.

Ms Lilian Tan, chief human capital officer at Sats, said: "As the aviation industry continues to progress, additional roles will become available, and we will tap the local talent pool to augment our workforce."

She said Sats aims to attract new workers and retain its existing workers with incentives such as competitive pay and performance-based rewards.

Sats is still hiring for several roles, including customer service and trainee flight controllers. Perks offered include a joining bonus of $5,000 for some roles.

The aviation sector is expected to restore 85 per cent to 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic workforce by the end of the year. It had lost a third of its more than 35,000 workers during the pandemic.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat had said last month that employers are looking to fill almost 2,000 vacancies immediately during the OneAviation Careers job fair on May 27 and 28. He also said then that the fair, which featured 21 firms, will be the first of many more sector-wide recruitment efforts.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said on Thursday (June 16) that the event attracted about 11,000 job seekers and aviation enthusiasts. A spokesman said the participating companies are in the process of evaluating applications and shortlisting candidates.

dnata, the other ground handler at Changi Airport, said more than 300 candidates expressed interest in working at the firm during the career fair. Mr Musdalifa Abdullah, managing director for dnata Singapore, said the firm is in the process of reviewing applications, interviewing candidates and making job offers.

He said dnata plans to recruit and train some 200 new employees across its operations, in roles such as lounge service agents and quality assurance professionals. In some roles, the new staff will be able to join operations after two weeks of training.

Mr Andy Tan, head of Certis Aviation Security, said it has shortlisted some 100 candidates for different positions following the aviation career fair last month. It had offered more than 500 vacancies for various roles, such as command centre support officers and auxiliary police officers.

Those who are interested in working for Certis can still apply for a job at its recruitment hub in Commonwealth Lane during office hours, Mr Tan added.

The aviation sector is expected to restore 85 per cent to 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic workforce by the end of the year. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Airlines have also been hiring flight crew in tandem with the resumption of flights.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) had said last month that it will hire 2,000 cabin crew by March next year. More than 800 people have been hired so far.

The SIA Group's budget arm, Scoot, said it has recruited more than 250 new cabin crew since late December last year. Ms Theresa Tan, Scoot's vice-president of human resource, said the carrier aims to recruit around 900 cabin crew by the end of its financial year in March 2023.

"All flight and cabin crew who were furloughed or who took secondary employment during the pandemic, are being gradually recalled back to active service," said Ms Tan, who declined to give specific figures, citing commercial sensitivity.

Scoot is also hiring workers for back-end operations and services, she added. It is recruiting staff for positions such as mobile application developers, web developers and human resource specialists.

SIA and Scoot carried a total of 1.7 million passengers last month, up 17.4 per cent from the previous month. Their passenger load factor, which refers to how much of their planes' seats are filled, clocked 78.2 per cent. This was the highest since the onset of the pandemic.

There were 418,310 visitors to Singapore last month, according to Singapore Tourism Board. This was less than a third of the 1.5 million visitors registered in May 2019 before the pandemic, but represents a 41.75 per cent increase compared with April this year.

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