As pilots, Mr Ken Chew and Mr Steven Goh have been flying for 25 and 15 years respectively. A long time. When the pandemic swept across the world, they, like many others in the aviation industry, were pretty much grounded. One day, while having a meal at Ghim Moh Road Market and Food Centre, they approached the stallowner of Granny’s Pancake, Mr Ng, and requested for him to mentor them. They also took advantage of the Hawkers’ Development Programme designed to help new hawkers enter the trade. Mr Goh and Mr Chew started on the programme with fervour, taking classes on business planning and marketing. How lovely!
Like many other workers in the aviation industry, their resilience and willingness to reskill is commendable.
Aviation industry workers carve out new paths with the support of Unions
Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has been collaborating with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to help place the aviation industry’s workers in new jobs, and help them pivot through retraining and upskilling.
NTUC Secretary General, Mr Ng Chee Meng expressed a deep sense of loss and sadness at the inevitable need of local airlines to right-size in a recent FaceBook post. “I know it is tough for all concerned. But let us take heart, keep the faith and continue to support one another. Slowly but surely, we will emerge stronger together,” he shared.
Indeed, the industry’s workers have shown great resilience in the face of the pandemic. Their stories have been inspiring. They have served at various F&B outlets; packed stocks at FairPrice, served as care ambassadors at hospitals; and served as safe ambassadors at MRT stations. In the face of challenges, they have displayed strong adaptability and spirit!
Likewise, Mr Ken Chew and Mr Steven Goh have moved on to a different path – for now. They are running a simple business selling pancakes at a coffee shop. Compared to the cockpit, one can only imagine the change and their strong mindset to keep going. As they shared, it is a “totally different environment” and has taken a lot of endurance but, it is fulfilling for the two gentlemen. Their long-term goal? To handle the business from behind the scenes while their staff take care of daily operations. Mr Chew and Mr Goh are still waiting for the aviation industry to recover, and yearning to take to the skies again.
The outlook for aviation industry workers
To the disappointment of many, transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced last week that the air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore would be postponed for two weeks. A well-considered move for sure.
Even with drastic cost-cutting measures, airlines are fast running out of cash. The industry has been ravaged and the road ahead remains bumpy. The outlook for the industry remains foggy. Globally, millions are jobs are at risk in the aviation industry alone.
The livelihoods of thousands and thousands of workers in the industry are at stake. Countries with sizable domestic markets to rely on can afford to hold back on reopening borders. Can we afford that? No. Tourism and related activities contribute to a huge chunk of Singapore’s GDP. Tourism also plays an essential role in reinforcing Singapore’s status as a vibrant global city, attracting investments, businesses and talent. Simply put, we cannot afford to close our borders indefinitely.
We will get there together.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the day we can travel again. Let’s hope for a recovery for the aviation industry with recent promising developments on the vaccine front. May Mr Ken Chew and Mr Steven Goh, together with many other aviation industry workers be able to take to the skies as pilots again one day!
Sending lots of love to the workers in the aviation industry!
Cover pic via