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The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group has decided to cut 4,300 jobs, or around 20% of its staff, across its Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The airline said the potential number of employees affected by the decision would come down to nearly 2,400 in Singapore and overseas.

This reduction is the result of collective measures such as a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and voluntary departure schemes, which have allowed the group to eliminate 1,900 positions.

SIA took the decision as it aims to operate a smaller fleet for a reduced network as Covid-19 continues to affect the global airline industry.

The group expects to operate less than 50% of its capacity at the end of financial year 2020/2021 compared with pre-Covid levels.

Singapore Airlines chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said: “When the battle against Covid-19 began early this year, none of us could have predicted its devastating impact on the global aviation industry.

“From the outset, our priorities were to ensure our survival and save as many jobs as possible.

“Given that the road to recovery will be long and fraught with uncertainty, we have to, unfortunately, implement involuntary staff reduction measures.

“Having to let go of our valuable and dedicated people is the hardest and most agonising decision that I have had to make in my 30 years with SIA.

“This is not a reflection of the strengths and capabilities of those who will be affected, but the result of an unprecedented global crisis that has engulfed the airline industry.”

In July, Singapore Airlines (SIA) raised S$750m ($541m) in funding as part of its efforts to boost liquidity amid the Covid-19 crisis.

In August, Australian carrier Virgin Australia reportedly revealed plans to lay off around 3,000 of its 9,000 workers.