Ground carriers and careers: flight attendants are looking for other jobs

Nguyen Thi Thu Phuong, a 28-year-old flight attendant for a Vietnamese airline, left her rented room in Tan Binh district of HCMC and returned to her hometown of An Giang in Delta Province. Mekong River after quitting his job in May.

“It was a tough decision but I had no other choice,” said Phuong, who served passengers on long-haul international flights before the pandemic.

After nearly two years and four waves of Covid-19, Phuong had almost used up all of her savings and could no longer afford to pay her rent and face other expenses in HCMC.

Before the pandemic, she flew around 60 to 80 hours per month and had a monthly income of over VND 20 million ($ 875.57). After Vietnam closed its borders and suspended international flights in March last year, Phuong took unpaid leave for nearly six months and switched to online sales to survive the pandemic.

When domestic tourism recovered at the end of last year, she returned to work on domestic flights, but her working hours were drastically reduced and she struggled to survive selling products online. cosmetics.

The latest wave of Covid-19 which started at the end of April resulted in the suspension of most domestic flights and Phuong was once again unemployed. This time, she decided to give up her job of more than five years and returned to her hometown.

“We have been through a difficult year of health risks, layoffs and with the current pandemic situation it would be difficult for the aviation industry to get back to normal anytime soon and what I need to do now is find a new job and rebuilding my career, ”said Phuong.

Once the pandemic is under control, Phuong plans to return to town and work as an English teacher.

Phuong is one of the many flight attendants in Vietnam who have had to find ways to weather the Covid storm for almost two years now.

Tran Tu Anh, 30, left her flight hostess job five months ago and now sells life insurance products.

Anh said that before the pandemic, she flew around 90 hours a month and earned nearly VND 25 million ($ 1,093), not to mention other perks. However, its revenue fell 70% last year as all international flights were suspended and the frequency of domestic flights was also drastically reduced.

Last year, she took unpaid leave for almost four months, then arranged to work on repatriation flights that required all cabin crew to undergo mandatory quarantine upon return, in accordance with the protocol of the Ministry of Health.

“2020 has really been an extremely difficult year for aviation personnel like me. In addition to the reductions in working hours and cuts in wages, we have had no Head bonus. With an uncertain future for the aviation industry, I decided to give up my job that I dreamed of doing until I was 35, ”said Anh.

Anh said many of her colleagues were passionate about the profession but had to give up because their income was not enough to cover daily expenses and the risk of contracting the virus on flights was high.

“Although my current income from selling insurance products is not as high as what I earned as a flight attendant, at least I had work to do,” he said. she declared.

Without theft to work, Nguyen Hoang Phuc, 25, left his rented room in HCMC and returned home to Binh Duong Province for more than three months.

Phuc started working as a flight attendant for a Vietnamese airline in early 2019 and has flown around 80 to 90 hours per month earning over VND 20 million. When domestic tourism temporarily recovered, it flew about 60 hours per month. When the fourth wave of coronavirus hit at the end of April, he has been on unpaid leave since early May.

Unlike many colleagues who have chosen to quit their jobs and seek new careers, Phuc hopes to survive the pandemic with side jobs and wait until the crisis is over until he can fly by winning.

Phuc used his savings to start selling food online, but the business was not easy, given strict travel restrictions and police barricades in Binh Duong, the country’s second largest Covid hotspot. after HCMC.

“My parents became a source of motivation for me in the midst of the dark days of my career. What I want now is for everyone to stay safe and overcome this epidemic.”

Grounded carriers

The difficulties for flight attendants stem from the difficulties faced by Vietnamese carriers, facing major financial challenges as revenues plummet and debt soars. Since the advent of Covid-19 early last year, airline revenues have fallen 80 to 90 percent, according to a recent report by the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA).

The Ministry of Planning and Investment said the national carrier Vietnam Airlines was on the verge of bankruptcy and needed government support. Last year, the national carrier cut large numbers of employees and cut pilots and cabin crew salaries to cut costs.

Doan Ngoc Linh, head of Vietnam Airlines’ cabin crew division, said the airline had around 3,173 flight attendants, but only 10% were on duty as of May this year. The rest were made redundant or taken unpaid leave, he said. The other national carriers have not released the corresponding details.

Vietnam Airlines Chairman Dang Ngoc Hoa said the airline will avoid mistakes as the world’s largest carrier American Airlines has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights due to a shortage of personnel as the aviation market recovered.

He said Vietnamese News Agency the airline provided monthly aid of VND 1.8 million per person to employees on unpaid leave, including flight attendants and maintained social protection schemes such as health insurance and voluntary retirement insurance .

With most tourist sites out of reach due to blockages and other closures, local carriers have suspended most domestic flights. Only a few routes were allowed to remain open, but Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Administration on August 30 asked airlines to stop selling tickets for domestic flights until further notice.

Meanwhile, Phuc said all of his colleagues have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine and that he hopes the government will succeed in stopping the current wave of Covid-19 so commercial flights can resume and return to normal. soon.

But his dream remains distant as Vietnam is currently grappling with its most difficult Covid outbreak to date, and no one knows when some semblance of normalcy will return.

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