Flight attendants have turned to left-handed jobs to supplement their lost income as airlines remain grounded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chu Hoa, a Vietnamese flight attendant, could not imagine the Covid-19 pandemic that started in February would linger until now.She thinks she will return to work in July.
Hoa is still wandering in her hometown of Saigon.
Before the pandemic, Hoa flew about 60-80 hours a month for a Korean airline, enough to provide her with a decent standard of living.
Although the airline still pays her a basic monthly salary, the 26-year-old is worried about the company's financial prospects.She also worries that foreign flight attendants like herself will be fired first if the pandemic worsens.
"I used to allocate part of my income to savings and another part to paying off my mortgage.Since my income dropped, now I try to spend as little as possible.It will be very difficult for me if I continue to stay at home like this," she said.
Trying to stay optimistic, Hoa sees this as a time to improve herself.She teaches four pay-per-week classes on flight attendants, including test-taking advice for young people with similar interests.
“In the past, many people texted me asking about my experience in training and work.But at that time I was very tired.All I want to do is rest and spend time with myself and with my family.So I don't have a chance to advise them much.
"Since I have more free time now, I want to help others understand this profession better," she said.
Hoa also attended English and Korean classes, reading and doing extra exercises.
“With this situation, I predict that from now until the end of this year there will be no flights even though no official announcement has been received from the airline."
Chu Hoa (in yellow) poses with her students.Photo courtesy of Hoa.
In the same boat as Hoa, Ngoc Tram, a flight attendant with eight years of experience, was forced into unpaid leave since the outbreak hit.But she sees the crisis as an opportunity for her to rebalance her life.
"In the past, I opened a small shop selling female swimsuits.But because I was busy, I neglected it.Now I have time to learn the business, improve the quality of products and services and apply customer care knowledge to my store", she said.
Hai Phong, a flight attendant for a Vietnamese carrier, said that despite a reduction in salary and working hours, he still has an income from graphic design, so he "can adapt temporarily."
This job provides an equivalent of 30-40 percent of his flight attendant salary.During busy months, this income can account for around 70 percent.
Phong has taught himself to be a graphic designer for five years.Currently, his customers are acquaintances introduced by friends.He has about 7-8 clients per month.
“In the near future I will set up a Facebook page and post pictures of my designs.I will also run ads to find more customers.Currently, I spend about 4-5 hours a day designing,” he said.
Phong said while many flight attendants were disappointed to see the country's second wave of Covid-19, he felt less shocked this time thanks to his experiences from the first wave.“The most important thing is to know how to protect yourself and your passengers."
Since flight times have been reduced, Thanh Nam, a flight attendant in Hanoi, has started venturing into the stock market.Nam gained experience in this field after working for a securities company.
He also signed up for a Korean course, went to the gym, and took piano lessons.
“Every industry is affected now.I hope my colleagues will keep their passion and work together to fight the pandemic,” Nam said.
Trinh Vo, 23, a flight attendant and mother of one in Saigon, said her life has almost completely changed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.The salary of the flight attendant suddenly decreased, and her revenue from filming and filming was also affected.
Faced with 4 months of unpaid leave, Trinh practices yoga every day - her longtime passion.Her friend recommended her to teach yoga during this period, so she decided to study for a degree as a professional yoga instructor.
During her break, her income from teaching yoga has helped her endure this difficult time.Trinh's customers are mainly postpartum mothers who want to lose weight and get in shape.
Vietnam has experienced a second wave of Covid-19 since the first case in the country was recorded in more than three months on July 25.Since then, domestic travel demand has dropped sharply and airlines have lost the opportunity to exploit summer tourism to compensate for the first loss.
According to the Vietnam Aviation Business Association, airlines are still running out of cash even though they have implemented various tricks to cut costs such as selling planes, cutting staff salaries, and reducing ticket prices.
Vietnam Airlines expects this year's revenue to drop half a year from the same period last year to VND50 trillion (more than $2.15 billion), with a loss of about 13 trillion dong (nearly 560 million USD).
Vietjet Air's financial report for the second quarter shows that the budget airline only achieved a revenue of 1 billion dong.97 trillion (more than $84.9 million), down 80% compared to the same period last year and recorded a negative profit after tax of 1 dong.1 trillion (over $47.4,000,000).
The International Civil Aviation Organization forecasts that the world aviation industry will recover in 2024 and Vietnamese airlines will lose more than 4 billion USD this year.
Chu Hoa said that every day when she wakes up, she prays that 2020 will pass quickly and the pandemic will end.
Like Hoa, Trinh Vo tried everything to survive the pandemic but still dreamed of returning to the sky.“I can't quit.I like it so much,” Vo said.
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