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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
Job cuts begin at Singapore Air

Singapore Air, once one of the most profitable airlines in the world, has been forced to make the largest number of job cuts in its history.

The sharp fall in passenger numbers following the break-out of the Sars virus caused the airline to lose $6m (3.6m) a day during April and May.

"It is clear that we have to cure this financial haemorrhage... we cannot simply wait and just hope that business will recover sooner rather than later," the firm's chief executive, Chew Choon Seng said in an apologetic speech to staff.

"We need to act now to save the company," he stressed.

Analysts are already warning that the 414 job losses are just the start, and local media has suggested that up to 2,500 redundancies are in the pipeline.

'No recovery yet'

The airline has already reduced capacity by 30%, cut management wages by 27.5% and forced cabin crew to take compulsory unpaid leave.

None of the first round of job cuts include pilots, who are currently involved in a fierce battle with the firm's management over proposed pay cuts.

Singapore has suffered 32 deaths out of 206 recorded cases of Sars, but was declared free from Sars infections at the end of May.

Mr Chew said that, although the drop in business had bottomed out, demand was still much lower than the pre-Sars level and warned that a recovery was not yet in sight.

Singapore Air is 56% owned by the government.


SEE ALSO:
Singapore Air in unpaid leave call
30 Apr 03  |  Business
Sars strikes down Asia tourism
15 May 03  |  Business


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