SQ321 incident: SIA CEO praises staff and promises help to ease anxiety


Flight SQ321 was flown back to Singapore on May 26. - ST

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airline chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong, who has been at the forefront of managing the aftermath of a freak turbulence incidence on May 21 involving flight SQ321, thanked his staff and acknowledged the anxiety many of them were feeling.

In a message to staff circulated on May 26, the same day the affected Boeing B777-ER was flown back to Singapore, Goh told them to get some rest and spend time with loved ones.

“The last five days have been immensely challenging for everyone at Singapore Airlines following the extreme turbulence encountered on board flight SQ321 over the Irrawaddy Basin on Tuesday, 21 May, which very sadly resulted in one fatality and multiple serious injuries,” he wrote.

“I offer our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased.”

He added: “Our agility, dedication and team spirit were evident during this period. The Singapore-based crisis management team sprang into action, while our Bangkok station and their local partners mobilised all available resources and medical teams to receive the aircraft.

“A Go-Team, including first responders and staff volunteers from Singapore, was swiftly dispatched to Bangkok to provide additional support.”

Flight SQ321 from London to Singapore hit severe turbulence as it approached Myanmar at around 4.30pm on May 21, resulting in the death of one passenger from a heart attack and injuries to several dozen others. Many passengers remain hospitalised in Bangkok, where the plane diverted to soon after the incident.

Goh, who has been in Bangkok visiting injured passengers of the flight, said a relief flight – carrying 131 passengers and 12 crew members from SQ321 who were cleared to travel – landed in Singapore on May 22, early in the morning.

“Dozens of our people, together with our airport partners in Singapore, were there to assist them, and facilitate their smooth clearance and onward journey to homes, hotels or connecting flights,” he shared.

“In Bangkok, our volunteer customer care representatives from around the world have been giving direct support to those who have been hospitalised, as well as their families and loved ones. Stations across our global network are involved in on-ground communications, follow-up checks and logistics.”

He added that SIA staff worldwide had maintained day-to-day operations, with many stepping in for those directly responding to SQ321.

“So much has happened in such a short time. It has been undeniably intense, with everyone working at a relentless pace as we collectively responded to SQ321. On behalf of the SIA board and the entire management team, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Goh wrote.

“At the same time, as we continue to provide attentive care to the affected passengers and crew members, please take care of yourselves and your health. Your physical and mental well-being are extremely important. When you get a chance, please rest and spend some time with your loved ones.”

He said passengers of the flight had commended the SIA crew, who selflessly assisted them despite their own injuries, as well as the pilots, for safely diverting and landing in Bangkok.

“When I met our injured crew members, I reassured them that the company will continue to look after them as they recover from their injuries and get through this difficult time.”

He asked staff who needed additional support to reach out to their managers, or use SIA’s internal resources.

“We are here for you. Your commitment to our customers, colleagues, and the company truly reflects the Singapore Airlines spirit. I am immensely proud and honoured to be leading the SIA family.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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