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Person of the Year Awards Dinner

Remarks by guest of honor and 2018 Orient Aviation Person of the Year Goh Choon Phong CEO of Singapore Airlines at the award dinner on January 25 in Hong Kong

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January 25th 2019

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Goh Choon Phong’s speech highlighted the group’s progress at the midpoint of its transformation: Read More »

  • Better positioning for SIA with a significant and growing presence in the LCC market with Scoot, investments in overseas airlines in India,  Thailand and Australia and adjacent businesses such as pilot training 

  • SIA Group will place greater emphasis on revenue generation initiatives, operational efficiencies and organizational changes 

  • Enhance SIA’s premium offerings with all new cabins in our A380s, new regional cabin products on our 787-10s and A350-900s and the re-launch of the world’s longest flight from Singapore to New York. 

To read the full speech:

For those of you who know Singapore Airlines well, you’ll know that we generally shy away from personality-focused awards. The reality is that SIA is a big family, and no single individual can be responsible for its success. But I am very honoured to accept this award on behalf of the more than 26,000 employees of the SIA Group all around the world. It would also be remiss of me not to give credit to our visionary Board, for enthusiastically encouraging and supporting the many changes that were a factor behind our selection for this award.

SIA has been undergoing significant change for a number of years now. We have had to adapt to developments in our industry, as there has been so much structural change – especially in our part of the world. The key elements driving that structural change should not come as a surprise to anyone in this room - the proliferation of low-cost carriers and the rapid growth of Middle East airlines. More recently, Chinese airlines have been carrying out aggressive international expansions as well.

In Southeast Asia, challenges are particularly intense. The big three Middle Eastern airlines have expanded into all the major cities with large aircraft and, to many of those cities, with multiple daily frequencies. Within Southeast Asia, low-cost carriers also now have the highest market share of anywhere in the world – at more than 50%. And all this change has occurred in a relatively short time period, of about two decades.

So, when we were looking at what we needed to do to adapt to change, we took a good hard look at what we were over the years. We were focused on three main things: One, being a premium full-service airline; Two, being focused primarily on the Singapore hub; and Three, being focused largely on revenue from ticket sales.

We are still very focused on all these areas, but we have had to go beyond them to better position the SIA Group for the future. We now have a significant and growing presence in the low-cost market through our subsidiary Scoot; we now have investments in airlines overseas, such as in India, Thailand and Australia; and we have adjacent businesses, such as in pilot training.

These have represented fundamental changes for the SIA Group, and I must admit that when we started the change programme, I was concerned about whether we would be able to get our staff behind it. Not only was I very pleased that our staff did get on board, but it was also apparent that our employees readily recognised the need for change. That is why I am dedicating this award to all our staff tonight. They are the ones who truly drove the change that was very much needed.

The strategy is of course still developing, and over the past 20 months or so we have moved to the next phase of our transformation, giving even greater emphasis to the strengthening of the core business. This encompasses new revenue-generation initiatives, new operational efficiency enhancements, and organisational changes. All of this is underpinned by our ongoing mission to delight our customers and provide them the highest-quality service.

We are more than half-way through the three-year programme, and we have been very pleased with how it has been developing. An important element of it has been to further enhance our premium offerings, and last year was particularly busy in this area. Examples include the launch of all-new cabin products on our A380s, the launch of new regional cabin products on our 787-10s and A350-900s, and our re-launch of the world’s longest flights, between Singapore and New York.

And there is much more to come. A major development over the next two years will be the enhancement of the in-flight products of our subsidiary SilkAir before its eventual merger into SIA. There will also be further growth of Scoot and our associate carriers outside of Singapore, just to name a few initiatives. Clearly, we are never standing still, as we know we cannot do so. If we stand still, others can overtake us, and we must always ensure we bear this in mind.

It is very fitting that this event is taking place here in Hong Kong. We have been serving Hong Kong for six decades and it is one of the busiest ports in our network. It is the home of great history in aviation, and the home of another great airline, Cathay Pacific. We may be competitors, but we have very good friends at Cathay and genuine respect for the team behind the airline.

Allow me to pay a special mention of thanks tonight to Orient Aviation. The publication has done the industry such a great service over more than 25 years, and I for one look forward to reading it every month. The journalism is top notch and its reputation is very well deserved. All that makes being named for this award even more humbling. You also really know how to put on a show! Thank you so much for hosting us in this lovely venue and bringing together so many good friends tonight.

Allow me also to thank the sponsors of this evening’s event, Airbus and Boeing. We have a fantastic relationship with both companies, and we are great partners. In 2018 we were the launch customer for a new aircraft type from each manufacturer – the Airbus A350-900ULR, and the Boeing 787-10.

To our many other industry colleagues, thank you too for honouring me and my SIA colleagues with your presence. The fact that you are here makes it all the more special, as it shows that while we can be competitors, we can also be friends.

We also have a number of our loyal customers and representatives from key Singapore companies in this room tonight. I wish to thank you very much for your support. It is because of you that we keep striving for excellence, and because of you that we know we must never rest on our laurels.

Allow me to close by saying once again that this award is truly about more than any single individual. I have used these same words before, but they are worth repeating: the perseverance of our staff, combined with their shared enthusiasm and constant desire to enhance the travel experience of our customers, makes this an award for all our employees, all around the world.

With that I will conclude my remarks, and thank you all again for joining me tonight to celebrate this honour.

Thank you.

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