Singapore Airlines said yesterday it was laying off pilots and cabin crew to cut costs after the SARS outbreak.
In a brief statement, the airline said it was laying off five pilots and terminating the contracts of another 21 pilots, six of whom are based overseas. Additionally, the airline is laying off 156 cabin crew.
The Air Line Pilots Association-Singapore had earlier engaged the carrier in a wage dispute, before pilots took a pay cut of between 11 percent to 16.5 percent in the airline's bid to reduce its wage bills.
"Although compulsory no-pay leave and wage cuts have helped to reduce staff costs, these measures alone could not address the prevailing surplus of crew," the airline said. "It was therefore necessary to reduce the numbers through retrenchment and termination of contracts."
Singapore Airlines said it has been losing S$6 million (US$3.42 million) daily since April because of the SARS outbreak and is expecting its first ever quarterly loss which ended last month.
It recently laid off 414 ground staff, while another 145 employees opted for early retirement.
SIA has about 1,900 pilots and 6,600 cabin crew.
Visitor arrivals to Singapore dipped by as much as 70 percent on year after the SARS outbreak that began in March and have been slow to recover.