As the global health crisis continues to take its toll on the aviation industry, nearly all airlines have been forced to implement one or more forms of cost savings. For Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines, a way to bring down its expenditures has been to introduce a four-day workweek for its office employees, which will possibly commence in the spring.

Reducing the workweek by 20%

According to The Japan Times, Skymark Airlines is set to introduce a four-day workweek for its office employees in an effort to curb staffing cuts brought on by the downturn in travel demand. The information was obtained by a source with knowledge of the plan, which may be implemented in the spring.

The reduction in workdays will be implemented in such a way that it will not affect the airline’s business operations, with a flexible time system (flextime) being another consideration. The source goes on to say that the plan will apply to all office employees across the board. Not just for those raising families or taking care of parents.

With much of Japan operating on a five-day workweek, the transition to four-days per week represents a cut of 20%.

Skymark’s domestic focus

What may be one of Skymark’s key strengths during this time of crisis is that its operations are entirely domestic. In a year where international travel restrictions have negatively impacted airlines worldwide, the airline has been able to maintain its operations, albeit at a reduced capacity.

Much larger airlines of even smaller nations have not been so lucky. At the peak of the crisis, Emirates and Etihad (UAE), Singapore (Singapore Airlines), and Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) had banned all regular flight service, including transfer traffic.

News of Skymark’s decision to change some of its employment policies comes at a time when Japan is further restricting international travel. These tough new entry measures are a direct response to the emergence of a mutated strain of COVID-19 that is even more infectious. First detected in the UK, Japan has reported its first cases of this mutated strain in five people who entered the nation from the UK.

Japanese work culture

This may be a strange shift for Skymark’s office employees as Japan is notorious for its long work hours.

Indeed, a 2017 Japan Times article noted that Japanese workers only take around half of their vacation days, while many workers surveyed said they felt guilty whenever they took time off.

However, the results of the survey are certainly not indicative of a reluctance to take vacation days. Rather, they are reflective of cultural pressures and a lack of communication from leadership. Indeed, the primary criteria Japanese cited when considering a career change was “getting more vacation days.” Therefore, in a roundabout way, some of Skymark’s office workers may get this, whether they want it or not.

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