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Singapore Air cuts more staff

Passenger numbers on SIA and other carriers plunged because of SARS.
Passenger numbers on SIA and other carriers plunged because of SARS.

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(CNN) -- Singapore Airlines (SIA) says it is firing another 26 pilots and 156 cabin crew in a second round of staff cuts designed to help it recover from the impact of the SARS outbreak earlier this year.

The airline, known as one of Asia's most profitable carriers, said Monday it had to reduce crew numbers through retrenchment and the termination of contracts.

It said it had taken the decision with "much regret".

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SIA said the 21 pilots and five first officers represented 1.5 percent of its technical crew strength, while the 156 flight stewards and stewardesses accounted for 2.4 percent of cabin crew numbers.

The airline has about 1800 pilots and 6600 cabin crew.

In the first round of retrenchments last month, SIA announced more than 400 job losses and cut salaries of its pilots and first officers.

It also offered early retirement to some cabin crew and said it had cut its flight capacity by more than 30 percent since April 1 to cope with the passenger downturn stemming from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

CEO Chew Choon Seng said on June 19 that SIA suffered a loss of S$204 million ($116 million) for airline operations in April and about S$166 million in May. He said its load factor for May was down to just 53 percent, even after trimming capacity.

Last week, SIA said that its removal from the World Health Organization's list of SARS-affect areas contributed to better demand in June, but passenger capacity was still 32.5 percent lower than June 2002. Passenger loads fell 38.3 percent.

More than 800 people worldwide died from the SARS outbreak earlier this year, with most of those deaths in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.

Shares in SIA are about 1 percent higher at S$11.00 in Monday afternoon trade in Singapore. The broader Straits Times index is up about 0.2 percent.

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