What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ong Yong Beng
CEO, Images in Motion
Date of writing: March 31
Are you in lockdown right now?
Partially. We’ve divided our staff into two teams that alternate working from the office every other week.
Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
What news outlets are you following?
Channel News Asia, CNBC, CNN, BBC and Reuters
“Every company needs to help the airlines bear some of this loss in order to keep them afloat and continue flying with IFE.”
Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
We secured an exclusive contract with Hainan Airlines and also another with Starlux, a new startup airline from Taiwan. Our goal was to start working closely with these airlines on new deliverables.
What challenges has your business faced as a result of the outbreak?
When it first started in China, it was indeed a challenge. Our staff in Singapore were mobile enough to continue their day-to-day tasks at home. It was more of a concern for the well-being of our colleagues and friends in China. Fortunately, with experience from SARS in 2003, we were able to react quickly with a set of procedures and policies. As such, operations for us were considered smooth during this period.
Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
During this stressful period, employees need to feel safe coming into the office. It helps when the work area is disinfected daily (or even hourly), plus having an ample supply of sanitizer and masks. Also, we have a mandate: If any of our staff is feeling unwell, they need to go see a doctor.
How can we as an industry work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
Flight levels have dropped significantly. Airlines have suspended their IFE services. Every company needs to help the airlines bear some of this loss in order to keep them afloat and continue flying with IFE.
How has the current situation driven innovation?
We have to be fluid. As such, we have a new solution to stream live broadcast news at up to 90 percent reduction of the usual bandwidth cost. More importantly, this is a hardware agnostic solution and won’t require any software change of the IFE hardware.
How do you feel about your government’s response to the crisis?
In Singapore, it has been pretty good. However as a content service provider (CSP), we may not be considered as part of the aviation sector since we are dealing mostly with media and content. The subsidies rolled out by the government is putting a lot of focus on aviation sector companies like airlines and ground handlers.
Where do you see your company or the industry in six months? One year from now?
There will be a long and tedious recovery. Even though China is slowly recovering, they are still not open to foreign travelers yet. This gives us a sense of the severity of the outbreak just starting in other countries (escalating in some parts of Europe and US). It may take a while for the number of infected cases worldwide to plateau. Only once they come down will business start to crawl back to normal. We are projecting at least a year or more to get back to where we were before.
What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
9/11 changed the way people travel and COVID-19 will be of the same nature. It may become a norm in the near future for passengers to go through some form of health check before boarding the plane.