Flight delays. Re-routing of flights. Grounding of flights. These are scenarios that nobody wants but circumstances such as bad weather and technical issues do occasionally result in delays.
Thankfully, at Singapore Airlines (SIA), these instances are few and far between. What’s more, there is a robust team of people working hard to ensure that in the event of any operational irregularities, customers will still be taken care of, with as little disruption to their trip as possible. With multiple flights departing and arriving at all hours of the day, that’s a massive logistical undertaking. It’s no wonder that SIA staff works round the clock to keep this well-oiled machine ticking along.
In fact, there are several teams at SIA who work deep into the night to support the airline’s operations. The Operations Control Centre (OCC) comprises several departments, all working hand in hand to ensure any operational irregularities are well managed.
In this exclusive feature, we speak to Manager Operations Control Victor Chye, Customer Care Manager Camie Choo, and Social Media Executive Loo Jun Mun on what their teams do on the night shift.
The role of Operations Control Centre (OCC)
“We represent Management in [handling] irregular operations; we work with the other operational units to find the optimal solution,” says Victor Chye, Manager Operations Control.
One such example was the flight diversion that took place on 24 November 2022. Flight SQ317 from London to Singapore was diverted to Frankfurt due to a technical issue. The aircraft landed uneventfully at Frankfurt Airport at around 2pm local time. The affected customers were provided with meals and hotel accommodation, and a relief flight was arranged for the next day.
Chye was on the night shift that night, and handled the arrangements for the relief aircraft. He says he felt a great sense of satisfaction in being able to prevent a long delay.
The 61-year-old, who has been with the airline for over 30 years, says things are very different from when he was a Station Manager.
“When OCC didn’t exist, [I] really had to beg for a relief aircraft sometimes,” he recalls. “Now, with OCC, anyone with an issue just has to call the Manager Operations Control. Everyone will be put on a conference call, and they can get all the answers they need.”
Keeping customers in the loop
In the rare occasions that a flight has to be grounded or delayed, Singapore Airlines remains committed to providing affected customers the relevant updates and assistance they need. That is where the Customer Care Team (CCT) comes in.
“My role is to ensure that the operations in CCT are under control,” says Camie Choo, Customer Care Manager on the Customer Care Team.
In the event of any flight disruptions, the CCT team’s job is to provide customers with reservations and ticketing support, assist with re-booking and re-routing options, and communicate any changes with customers as well as manage any communications with station managers, airport staff and so on.
Fortunately, Choo has a deep knowledge of customer needs, going as far back as 1996 when she first started handling passenger services at SATS, before moving onto SilkAir and finally Singapore Airlines. This January, she received a 25-year long-service award from the company.
A 360-degree approach to customer care
In this digital age, customers are more likely to turn to social media to get assistance or share feedback with their airline.
This is where the Social Media Engagement Unit comes in. The team monitors SIA’s social media handles, responding to comments as and when they come in, and shares pertinent travel advisories, where necessary.
“In this current age, a lot of things break out on social media first before it even reaches other members of the Operations Control Centre (OCC),” says Social Media Executive Loo Jun Mun, who graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Communications and New Media. “If it’s urgent, we can flag it to other members of the OCC.”
Despite the rigours of the job, Loo credits his team for creating a fun and enjoyable work environment. “We have a solid team; everyone chips in and gives their suggestions. We are able to manage the workload very well,” he shares.
To learn more about Singapore Airlines’ round-the-clock operations, check out this article on cabin crew scheduling and flight planning.