Use of tracking device overseas among precautions to protect crew: Singapore Airlines

Flight crew who need to stay overseas during layover flights will have to wear devices that track their location.
Flight crew who need to stay overseas during layover flights will have to wear devices that track their location.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Flight crew who need to stay overseas during layover flights will have to wear devices that track their location in order to ensure they comply with a rule requiring them to stay in their hotel rooms.

They are not allowed to physically interact with one another during the layover period.

These are part of several precautions in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection among Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight crew and passengers, said the carrier last week in response to queries.

SIA said it is committed to ensuring all precautionary measures are constantly reviewed to safeguard everyone's well-being during the travel journey.

"We remain guided by the authorities and will work closely with them to make adjustments, if necessary, in order to ensure the health and safety of our staff and customers during our flights," it said.

It did not disclose how many crew and pilots are taking to the skies and the frequencies of their flights. But it said there are many precautions in place to minimise any risk of infection.

On measures for pilots and cabin crew, SIA said they have to complete a health declaration form and take their temperature before starting work. They must not report for duty if they are unwell.

They are required to adhere to social distancing measures where possible, such as during their pre-flight briefing sessions and also in their commutes to and from airport terminals.

Cabin crew members have to wear goggles, as well as gloves when necessary, while interacting with customers. They also wear protective gowns on flights from certain sectors, such as London and Johannesburg.

"Social distancing measures that they have to adhere to during flights include no congregating in the galley, staggered meal times and remaining in respective work areas at all times," SIA said.

Fresh bedding is provided for all crew if inflight rest is applicable.

Upon their return to Singapore, all crew have to go home immediately. "All crew who have operated to high-risk destinations must self-isolate until they receive negative results from the three swab tests that they have to take on arrival and on the third and seventh day after arrival," SIA added.

Mr Alan Tan, president of the Singapore Airlines Staff Union, said the flight crew have been understanding and complying with the rules.

"If you fly for 16 to 18 hours to reach New York then have to stay in a room alone, it can be quite tough... but the crew understand that this is necessary," he said.

"There are some concerns about the imported cases from overseas on flights, but it is part of our job. Crew members can take leave if they are not comfortable to fly."

An SIA steward who declined to be named said he is "very grateful" that the carrier has invested in personal protective equipment to ensure crew are protected, given that they have to serve a wide range of passengers.

The steward, who is rostered for one flight a month, said: "Yes, it's inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear the gown, mask and goggles but if we come into contact with passengers who are unwell or refuse to wear their mask, at least we are protected," he said.