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Person of the Year Awards Dinner

Highlights from Goh Choon Phong’s Orient Aviation Person of the Year address

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February 1st 2019

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“For those of you who know Singapore Airlines well, you’ll know we generally shy away from personality-focused awards. Read More » 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 factors behind our selection for this award.

SIA has been undergoing significant change for a number of years. There has been so much structural change – especially in our part of the world. The key elements driving that structural change are 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.

The big three Middle Eastern airlines have expanded into all the major cities of Southeast Asia with large aircraft and, to many of those cities, with multiple daily frequencies. Low-cost carriers 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 deciding 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: being a premium full-service airline, being focused primarily on the Singapore hub and being focused largely on revenue from ticket sales.

We are still very focused on all these areas, but now we have a significant and growing presence in the low-cost market through our subsidiary Scoot, we have investments in airlines overseas, such as India, Thailand and Australia and we have adjacent businesses, such as pilot training.

These have represented fundamental changes for the SIA Group. I must admit when we started the change programme, I was concerned about being 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 our employees readily recognised the need for change.

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 with 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 enhance our premium offerings. Last year was particularly busy in this area. Examples include the launch of all-new cabin products on our A380s, the launch of regional cabin products on our 787-10s and A350-900s and our re-launch of the world’s longest flight, between Singapore and New York.

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 be more growth of Scoot and our associate carriers outside of Singapore, to name a few initiatives.

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 make 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 party! Thank you so much for hosting us in this lovely venue and bringing together so many good friends tonight.”

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