Japanese ex-SIA stewardess reveals entire retrenchment process: 'I felt like I was unemployed'

Thankfully, she has managed to find a new job.

Ashley Tan | January 06, 2021, 10:28 PM

The devastating blow that Covid-19 has dealt to the aviation industry has left airlines worldwide reeling, Singapore's national carrier notwithstanding.

Singapore Airlines cut around 2,400 crew in September 2020.

And with no inkling as to when global travel can resume, numerous former air stewards and stewardesses are left to hunt for new jobs.

But what was the entire retrenchment process like?

One former SIA stewardess, who hails from Japan, gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the entire retrenchment process in a YouTube video.

Email did not mention retrenchment

Aoi, who in her late twenties, said that she first got an email from the airline on Sep. 10 asking her to go down to the office.

There was no mention of retrenchment in the email.

However, news of SIA laying off their staff had already been released, and although Aoi had five days to prepare herself for the announcement, she said she still held a faint glimmer of hope.

Unfortunately, Aoi was one of the staff who was retrenched.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, around 20 to 30 staff were gathered in a hall, where they were then informed of their dismissal.

SIA apologised, and told the staff that they had to "let go of [their] dedicated and valuable employees".

Staff then checked their contracts and returned their employee ID cards.

Staff dealt with the bad news with maturity

Although such news is never easy to swallow, Aoi said that all the staff remained professional during their dismissal.

"No one was crying or upset. Everyone was dealing with it maturely," she observed.

Despite having five days before the meeting to prep herself for bad news, Aoi said that "of course [she] was sad".

However, she believed that SIA had managed to hold out during the pandemic without retrenching their employees for a much longer period, as compared to other airlines like Virgin and Emirates that started their lay-offs in May 2020.

She was grateful to SIA for this, she said.

Prior to her retrenchment, work was already few and far between.

Aoi revealed that since the implementation of circuit breaker in March to the time of her dismissal, she only went on two flights — one in June and another in September.

Except for the days when she was in the air, Aoi stayed at home the rest of the time.

"I felt like I was [already] unemployed," she said.

Has a new job in Singapore

Additionally, SIA told employees that they could not guarantee rehiring them.

However, the airline apparently said that they would welcome staff back when the situation improves.

Stewardesses would also have to keep their body in shape to wear the SIA uniform in the future.

Despite this optimistic outlook, Aoi is unsure if she would take up the job of an SIA air stewardess again if the company rehires in three to four years' time.

Considering that younger women are preferred for the role, she said that she might consider re-applying if SIA starts rehiring in the next one to two years.

Aoi's prospects at the moment don't seem too bad though.

She has been fortunate enough to find a new job in Singapore, which she plans to work at for the next few years.

She added that this was a good chance for her to "explore the new world which she has not experienced" and she was excited to try something new.

Aoi also plans to upload more videos to share her experience of being part of SIA's cabin crew.

You can watch her full video here.

Top photo from Aoi's Channel / YouTube