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Singapore Airlines and Government Agencies Strengthen Partnership for Crisis Response

Singapore Airlines and Government Agencies Strengthen Partnership for Crisis Response

The Ministry of Health (MOH), Public Service Division (PSD), and the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalise the commitment to collaborate on manpower planning and deployment for future national crises, building on the collaboration started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes training SIA and Scoot cabin crew volunteers in peacetime, so that they are ready to step up and take on various healthcare support roles as part of our national response for future crisis situations.

The trilateral MOU strengthens our national collective resilience and agility to respond to future crises. MOH, PSD, and the SIA Group will collaborate in two key areas: (a) peacetime training and volunteer deployment of cabin crew in support care roles; and (b) tabletop exercises to stress test our crisis response protocols. The MOU was signed by Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Permanent Secretary (Health), MOH, Ms Teoh Zsin Woon, Permanent Secretary (Development), PSD, and Mr Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer, SIA.

Deployment of SIA Group Staff during the COVID-19 Pandemic

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, various public agencies and healthcare institutions in Singapore urgently needed manpower reinforcements to support the national fight against the pandemic. At the same time, SIA and Scoot had significantly reduced their network operations after borders closed around the world, which resulted in surplus manpower within the SIA Group, particularly amongst cabin crew and pilots. Working closely with MOH and PSD, the SIA Group redeployed more than 2,000 staff to frontline roles in various public agencies and healthcare institutions from March 2020.

This included over 900 cabin crew who served as Care Ambassadors to support healthcare institutions in patient care, which freed up nurses and other healthcare staff to devote additional focus on patients who required more complex clinical care. SIA and Scoot staff were also temporarily redeployed as Transport Ambassadors, Contact Tracing Executives, and Social Service Office Processing Officers. When borders reopened and crisis operations stood down, the crew were able to pivot back to their jobs, enabling the SIA Group to recover quickly.


Learning from this experience, MOH, PSD, and the SIA Group have worked together to develop a partnership to expedite and coordinate action in the event of another national crisis.

Scope of SIA Group Ambassadors

For a start, the SG Healthcare Corps will facilitate the training and deployment of around 50 SIA and Scoot cabin crew, who will volunteer their time as SIA Group Ambassadors at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Changi General Hospital from April 2024. These SIA Group Ambassadors will be part of a pool of around 200 trained SG Healthcare Corps care volunteers who will serve alongside the healthcare workforce to meet the needs of patients. Please refer to Annex A for more details on the scope of the SIA Group Ambassadors during peacetime.

Mr Chan Yeng Kit said, “Even as MOH continues to build up our healthcare workforce to meet the needs of the population and implement plans to prepare for future national crises, we are growing our pool of trained healthcare volunteers through the SG Healthcare Corps. This will strengthen the resilience of our healthcare system both during peacetime and in the next crisis. We are deeply appreciative of the SIA Group’s partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hope that other private sector organisations will be inspired by the spirit of the SIA Group Ambassadors to also volunteer in the healthcare ecosystem.”

Ms Teoh Zsin Woon said, “The Public Service constantly looks and plans ahead for Singapore and Singaporeans. This MOU enables us to lock in and strengthen a successful public-private partnership that was forged during the COVID-19 pandemic. By coming together as a SGUnited team to strengthen partnerships during peacetime, we will be even stronger and more prepared to meet any challenges that can come our way in the future.”

Mr Goh Choon Phong said, “While the SIA Group had surplus manpower at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many public sector organisations needed more staff on the frontlines. Working closely with MOH and PSD, we successfully transitioned over 2,000 of our people to roles with various public agencies and healthcare institutions. Almost everyone they met in these jobs praised their warm and caring nature, professionalism, and dedication to customer service. Being exposed to different types of support roles also benefitted our people, who used their experience and new skills to enhance our customer service. Today’s agreement formalises our partnership with MOH and PSD, establishing a pathway to seamlessly redeploy our people once again, should a similar situation arise.”

Formalising this MOU to build the reserve healthcare workforce is part of our efforts to prepare for another pandemic. This is on top of other initiatives, such as the setting up of a new Communicable Diseases Agency, strengthening our hospital capacity, and boosting our pandemic preparedness and response through global surveillance.

Annex A

Scope of SIA Group Ambassadors During Peacetime

Core Roles in Patient and Resident Care Management

1. Assist patients and residents with activities of daily living under the guidance of nurses and other healthcare team members.

2. Assist nurses with basic care procedures and activities, such as:
a. Attending to patients’ and residents’ call bells, and relaying requests to nurses in charge of patients and residents;
b. Taking weight and height of patients and residents upon admission;
c. Measuring vital signs using monitoring machines;
d. Assisting to lift and/or transfer patients and residents from their beds to chairs, trollies, commodes, and vice versa;
e. Assisting to ambulate patients and residents, positioning and/or turning them on beds; and
f.  Assisting patients and residents with changing clothes, where appropriate.

3. Assist nurses with nutritional care and needs of patients and residents, such as:
a. Assisting to feed patients and residents (oral feeding only) when necessary, with basic monitoring of swallowing (before, during, and after oral feeding);
b. Serving meals; and
c. Checking the amount of water and portion of food taken by patients and residents.