Singapore must ensure its airline soars after COVID-19

March 23, 2020
Photo: Singapore Airlines.

Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates said that aviation is the world’s first worldwide web but after the COVID-19 pandemic is over and just a very bad and tragic memory some country’s webs will be in far better shape than others.

Rescue packages for airlines are being announced almost daily.

New Zealand, Australia and the US have stepped up with billions or assurances of lifelines.

READ: Singapore Airlines grounds most of its aircraft. 

In the Middle East, giants such as Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways are backed by their respective countries and while they will get a black eye they will emerge ready to snare more traffic off those airlines that have not had the enormous benefit of government ownership or a bailout.

While Singapore Airline’s biggest shareholder is the government through Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd the government has steadfastly refused to bail out companies in the past.

But this is different, very different and the government must step up to support Singapore Airlines which has been a huge money earner for the government over the decades.

If it does not the airline may be forced to sell assets at fire-sale prices to survive.

Sure, it’s in great shape but this pandemic and the resulting social and financial panic are like nothing anyone has ever been through since 1945.

And this is not just about the numbers.

The true importance of a vibrant airline system extends well beyond pure numbers as an integral part of the fabric of society and robust economies.

Efficient mobility systems are essential facilitators of economic development. Cities could not exist and global trade could not occur without systems to transport people and goods cheaply and efficiently.

And for the country of Singapore, Singapore Airlines is one of the world’s greatest brands that speak to perfection, integrity, service and efficiency, all the qualities that sell “Singapore”.

Countries and people will be judged by how they handled this crisis, the like of which most of us have never witnessed.

The Singapore Government needs to ensure its airline – one of the world’s very best – flies out of his pandemic stronger than ever, not struggling with its wings clipped.