Singapore Airlines, facing its first-ever job losses following a slump in passenger traffic because of SARS, is expected to announce 600 job cuts soon.
Singapore's New Paper daily quoted a source as saying the cuts would affect in-flight crew at Asia's largest airline by market value, including 75 in-flight supervisors and about 500 stewards and stewardesses, according to a Reuters report.
"We are not commenting on retrenchment at all at the moment other than to say that we have been talking with the unions about wage cuts and related issues," spokesman Rick Clements said when asked to comment on the newspaper report.
"We have also said that retrenchment is being seriously considered," he added.
A cut to the flag carrier's 14,500-strong staff has been expected forllowing a plunge in regional air travel in the aftermath of war in Iraq and outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The cuts would be Singapore Airlines' first major job losses since it was formed.
Regional rival Qantas already announced 1,400 lay-offs due to SARS and the war in Iraq.
Singapore Airlines lost S$204 million (£71m) in April alone, at the peak of the SARS outbreak, and statistics for the first two weeks of May indicate that the "bleeding is continuing into a fourth month", said its in-house magazine for June.
The airline, which is 56% owned by the Singaporean government, carried 506,000 passengers in May, down 59.5% from the same month last year. It is also heading to the arbitration court after its 1,600-strong pilot union resisted deep salary cuts and wage reform.
Staff costs totalled S$2.24 million (£780m), or 16% of total costs, in the last financial year to March 2003.
The carrier has taken many counter measures to curb its losses, including cutting capacity by a third, slashing fares and forcing crew members to take unpaid leave.
Despite plummeting traffic numbers, airline stocks have gained sharply in the last month on hopes that travel demand would improve with the spread of SARS coming under control.