The Singapore Airlines (SIA) group will be cutting around 2,400 positions across its airlines in Singapore and across its overseas stations.

The group has about 27,619 staff, according to figures released in its latest annual report.

“This decision was taken in light of the long road to recovery for the global airline industry due to the debilitating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the urgent need for the group’s airlines to adapt to an uncertain future,” says SIA in a filing on September 10.

“Discussions have begun with our Singapore-based unions. The group will work closely with them to finalise the arrangements as soon as possible for those affected, and try to minimise the stress and anxiety on our people,” it adds.

The group previously indicated that it expects to operate at under 50% of its capacity at the end of FY20/21 compared to its pre-Covid levels.

The group’s airlines will also operate a smaller fleet for a reduced network compared to their pre-Covid operations in the coming years.

According to SIA, the group said it originally needed to cut some 4,300 positions. However, the numbers were previously mitigated by a recruitment freeze in March 2020, natural attrition, an early retirement scheme for ground staff and pilots, and a voluntary release scheme for cabin crew. The measures allowed the group to already eliminate some 1,900 positions.

Industry groups have also forecast that passenger traffic will not return to previous levels till 2024.

Compared to most major airlines in the world, the SIA group does not have a domestic market to rely on.

“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,” says Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong.

“The next few weeks will be some of the toughest in the history of the SIA Group as some of our friends and colleagues leave the company. We will conduct this process in a fair and respectful manner, and do our best to ensure that they receive all the necessary support during this very trying time,” he adds.

Shares in SIA closed 4 cents lower, or 1.1% down, at $3.54 on September 10.