The day after Wuhan went into a lockdown in January 2020, Singapore Airlines Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong called a crisis meeting at Airline House, the company’s massive, factory-like headquarters at the end of Changi Airport’s runways. The question to be answered: How bad is this going to be?
Within weeks, as China locked down more cities to try to stop the novel coronavirus spreading and nations began to shut their borders, a chilling reality emerged. Goh and other executives realized that if they didn’t take drastic action fast, the airline that Singapore spent seven decades building into one of the world’s largest and most respected international carriers could go out of business.
“At that point, absolutely we were serious about it,” Goh said in an interview on Tuesday. The company could not take for granted that it would be bailed out, he said.