PETALING JAYA: For Intan Sharina Khairuddin (pix), it was deja vu when she was told recently that she was no longer needed in Malindo Air.
It wasn’t too long ago when she was similarly “let go” by Malaysia Airlines.
“I never expected things to turn out this way for me,” she told theSun yesterday.
Intan Sharina is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of airline employees whose contract had not been renewed in the past few months, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that followed.
Collectively, Malaysian carriers are expected to lose about RM13 billion over this period. At the height of the pandemic, practically all airlines were grounded.
None has yet returned to pre-Covid-19 flight frequency or passenger load.
Intan Sharina had been flying with Malaysia Airlines for 18 years when she was retrenched in 2015.
Eventually, she managed to regain her job as a flight crew, this time with Malindo Air but just five years on, she was grounded again.
Her husband works in the advertising industry, another sector that has been badly affected by the pandemic.
The couple have a 12-year-old son and making ends meet has become a problem.
To get by, Intan Sharina has started a choco jar business from which she makes about RM50 a day. “It’s not much but I’m grateful for the fact that there still is some income for me,” she said.
But with a house and a car they are still paying for, the couple are looking for an additional source of income.
In the meantime, a well-meaning family friend has chipped in with some money.
Intan Sharina said she has spent a lot of time sending out her resume to various companies, hoping to land a job somewhere.
But having spent the better part of her working life - a total of 23 years - confined in an airplane has turned out to be a disadvantage. “It has been disappointing,” she said.
However, Intan Sharina is not blaming anyone for her predicament. “I understand that the company had no choice but to let go some of its staff because of the current financial challenge. Even so, I feel some of the cuts could have been avoided with better planning,” she said.
She said she was originally offered an extended unpaid leave deal that she thought was acceptable since the assumption was that the airline would recall her when the situation improved.
“However, I was later told that I was not eligible for that and it was over,” she lamented.
The airline still owes her more than RM8,000 in unpaid salaries.
Despite her troubles, Intan Sharina is not giving up on the aviation industry.
“I have recently been offered a job in the Middle East and once the situation improves, I might just jump on that opportunity,” she added.
Read this story on our iPaper: Ex-stewardess struggles to stay afloat