Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg

Singapore Air Offers Unpaid Leave to Crew in Cost-Cutting Review

Singapore Airlines Ltd. is offering three months of voluntary unpaid leave to cabin crew as it seeks to cut costs amid rising competition in the region.

The carrier is asking some of its flight attendants to take the leave from September, it said in an emailed response to questions Friday. The airline had 8,356 cabin crew at the end of March, according to its annual report.

“Having temporary surpluses or deficits of cabin crew is not unusual due to the nature of our business,” a Singapore Air spokesman said. “This voluntary scheme over a specific period of time is to ensure that we efficiently manage crew resources and operational requirements. The intention is to offer it from time to time going forward.”

Singapore Air is in the midst of a review of its business amid intensifying competition from Middle East airlines and budget carriers, with Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong saying in June that it may include headcount reduction. The carrier returned to profit last quarter after posting its first loss since 2014 in the first three months of the year.

The Singaporean carrier isn’t the only airline that’s trying to reduce staff costs. Emirates is letting go of dozens of employees, including senior cabin crew and support department workforce, as the Gulf carrier continues a push to streamline after years of rapid growth, people with knowledge of the matter said last month. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said in May that it would eliminate 600 jobs in Hong Kong as part of the biggest business revamp in two decades as it slipped into a loss for the first time in eight years.

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