You may have come across in the news that earlier this year in February and August, the S$112 million Aviation Sector Assistance Package and S$187 million Enhanced Aviation Support Package were rolled out respectively.
But more monetary help for the aviation sector is on its way. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced on Tuesday (Dec 29) that the government will provide an additional S$84 million to the aviation sector to aid workers and businesses affected by the pandemic.
Aviation sector remains badly affected
There is no doubt that the aviation sector is one of the hardest-hit sectors in Singapore and abroad due to COVID-19. To give you an idea, we have some numbers. The report has it that the number of passenger traffic movements at Changi Airport last month saw a 98 per cent year-on-year decline.
“Given ongoing border restrictions and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many countries over winter, air travel will not recover soon. It is therefore critical that we maintain our support for the sector to help aviation companies and workers tide through the crisis,” said the CAAS.
Also, with selected aviation firms putting in place safety measures to enable air travel, many may require additional infrastructure, equipment, and workforce aid. The authority highlighted that firms would not be able to recoup these costs from passengers at the moment.
Government funding & rebates to calm the storm
“To help mitigate some of these costs, the Government will provide funding to support the development, adoption and deployment of innovative technologies and measures to protect our airport workers and aircrew from contracting COVID-19,” added CAAS in its media release.
There will also be some rebates between Apr 1 this year and Mar 31 next year to appease the situation. Specifically, the CAAS will not charge Certificates of Airworthiness fees for Singapore-based airlines.
On top of the abovementioned, they will also drop licence charges for those providing scheduled air services. Licence fees for ground handling and catering services at Changi and Seletar airports can also enjoy a 50 per cent deduction.
CAAS noted that such measures would cost about S$39 million in full.
Sustenance of aviation workers
With the ongoing pandemic with no clear end in sight, many aviation workers with lesser working hours have had income drops, while some have to settle with no-pay leaves.
In response, the CAAS mentioned that they would work with SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore, NTUC LearningHub, and the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster to help these workers build up their skills. In turn, this will enable them to switch to other job openings within the sector.
“Pilots need years to get their licence and certification. To ensure that we have a sufficient number of pilots for the eventual recovery, we will also work with SkillsFuture Singapore to provide funding support to Singapore-based airlines to re-train their pilots and keep their skills current,” CAAS commented.
As for local pilots, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat said the authorities would help convert their licences to fly other aircraft types from now on.
Mr Chee further remarked that retrenched Singaporean pilots working for foreign airlines who have returned to Singapore could apply for a Singapore pilot licence. This will allow them to work with a local airline in the future.
According to the CAAS, such measures to sustain workers amount to about S$20 million.
“Together, we will tide through this arduous journey and take our place in the skies again,” Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said in a recent year-end video.