October 25, 2022
SINGAPORE – National carrier Singapore Airlines has restarted cabin crew recruitment in South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan, as it seeks to make up for a manpower crunch and meet higher demand for flights.
With border restrictions in key Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan easing, hiring staff from abroad is now more urgent.
Before September, the only overseas source that SIA could tap since 2020 was Malaysia, beginning in April 2022. Prior to the pandemic, it also took in applicants from Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Japan. SIA said recruitment drives in these markets will resume progressively.
“SIA has traditionally recruited cabin crew from a wide range of locations to supplement our recruitment intake from Singapore,” it said. “Our recruitment drives are to replace cabin crew who have left for a variety of reasons, as well as to meet SIA’s growth plans. The number of available vacancies varies from time to time, and is dependent on our manpower requirements.”
During the pandemic, SIA froze hiring and put many of its cabin crew on no-pay leave until February 2022, when it restarted its local recruitment drive.
It has since hired about 1,200 cabin crew members, and wants to take in another 800 new recruits soon.
Last week, it said it is on track to achieve this target, without revealing fresh numbers. Before the pandemic, it had about 11,000 cabin crew members.
As at September, SIA Group’s capacity has reached 67 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels. Its planes are about 87 per cent filled on average, with fuller planes and more flights expected in the coming months.
In the past few months, The Straits Times followed a batch of 20 cabin crew trainees on a 14-week intensive basic training course, with modules such as food and drinks, deportment and safety evacuation.
In the safety module, participants leap into a pool to simulate a scenario where the pilot makes an emergency landing on water.
Once in the pool, they swim backwards. They also practise paddling with one hand while towing a person with another, as well as inflating their life jackets with hairdryers.
To stay warm at sea, they huddle together by linking their arms and legs, while making themselves smaller and minimising movement to conserve energy.
Instructor Irvin Selvam told trainees that they should always be alert and ready to make split-second decisions.
He also recounted a time when he had to tell the pilot about a passenger developing rashes a mere three seconds before take-off.
“The passenger eventually had to be offloaded from the plane. It is much more costly to fly off, then land, versus a simple return to the bay,” he said. “Cabin crew need to make decisions fast.”