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 support for the aviation sector be maintained to help companies and workers tide through the crisis, the CAAS said in an update on Tuesday, 29 December 2020.
The Government will commit an additional $84 million to the aviation sector to support aviation companies and workers as they weather the impact of COVID-19. This is on top of the previous government support for the sector, including the $112 million Aviation Sector Assistance Package and the $187 million Enhanced Aviation Support Package.
The aviation sector remains hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAAS said. The number of passenger traffic movements at Changi Airport in November 2020 is down 98% year-on-year.
Helping companies in aviation sector manage increased costs ($39 million)
To enable air travel and to minimise public health risk, aviation companies have implemented measures that require additional infrastructure, equipment and manpower. These have added significant cost which cannot be recovered from passengers during this period, the CAAS said.
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 air crew from contracting COVID-19.
The Government will also continue to provide rebates for fees and charges. CAAS will waive the fees payable by Singapore-based airlines for their Certificates of Airworthiness, as well as their licence fees payable for providing scheduled air services. The waiver will apply to fees payable between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. We will also provide 50% rebate for license fees payable for ground handling and catering services at Changi Airport and Seletar Airport from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
In total, these assistance measures will cost about $39 million.
Additional support for aviation workers ($20 million)
Many workers in the sector have taken wage cuts due to reduction in working hours, while others have been placed on no-pay leave. Pilots, air traffic controllers and aircraft maintenance engineers who have to pay for their license fees and medical evaluation fees will get a full rebate for fees payable between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
For aviation workers who would like to transition to other jobs in the sector, the CAAS said they will work with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG), NTUC LearningHub and the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster to help them enhance their employability and acquire skills to move to other jobs within the sector.
Pilots need years to get their license and certification. To ensure that we have sufficient number of pilots for the eventual recovery, we will also work with SSG to provide funding support to Singapore-based airlines to re-train their pilots and keep their skills current.
Together, these measures to help workers amount to about $20 million.
$25 million Aviation Development Fund (ADF)
The CAAS said that it is important that companies continue to invest in projects to improve productivity and build capabilities. This will enable the sector to manage longer-term manpower constraints and be ready for the recovery, it said.
“To encourage companies to continue with their innovation and productivity efforts, we will inject an additional $25 million into the Aviation Development Fund (ADF). This will provide an enhanced level of funding support of up to 90% to companies until the end of FY2021 (i.e. 31 March 2022) for companies’ initiatives,” the CAAS said.
“Such productivity efforts will improve the attractiveness of the sector to Singaporeans, support the employability of older workers, and reduce the sector’s reliance on foreign workforce in the longer-term,” it added saying that these measures will strengthen the resilience of companies and workers in the aviation sector to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is critical to reviving our air hub and ensuring that we are well-positioned for the recovery of air travel.”