Edwin Cheung, Encore Inflight, working from his living room in Hong Kong.

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 editor@apex.aero.

Edwin Cheung
Client Service Director, Encore Inflight
Location: Hong Kong
Date of writing: April 1

Are you in lockdown right now?
No, but working from home is advised here in Hong Kong. Social distancing is well practiced.

Where are you writing from?
At home, mostly in my living room. I feed my cats first so that they take long naps and I can use my laptop for a few hours without being interrupted.

How are you passing time while in isolation?
Cooking. Eating. Washing. And cooking again.

“We are open to all possibilities to make everyone’s life easier. It is crucial to help our clients by providing logistically and financially sound options.”

Have you or anyone you know been affected by COVID-19?
Yes, a family member in my former colleague’s household in Singapore; and also an industry friend in the US.

What are some of the challenges your business has faced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak? 
We are lucky that none of us is sick. But on the business side, there’s simply been no demand and supply. Airlines do not need to refresh their IFE content. Film producers have delayed theatrical releases and are holding back in-flight releases indefinitely. Liquidity is the most serious issue. We acquire movies in advance and have to make payments to producers way ahead. But now, some payments from content service providers (CSPs) have slowed down or been delayed. Like many other businesses, we are caught in the middle.

Any tips on how to remain positive or productive under these new circumstances?
On our team, we at least greet each other once in the morning to kickstart the day in good spirit. Emotional support from the team is a good antidote to boredom and solitude.

How can we as an industry work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
Keep communication open and look after one another. Though we may be in a different part of the supply chain and face problems on a different scale, we are in the same boat. Client-supplier relationship is the key to success in our industry and we need to be flexible and considerate in coming to a mutually supportive solution.

Can you share an example of generosity or kindness displayed by your company or one of your colleagues during this crisis?
Our company first looked at how to support airlines and CSPs logistically and financially. If they needed to keep encoded files longer to save money, we gave them a free rollover. If they needed a content refresh, we gave them free content. No cookie-cutter solution would work for all clients. We are open to all possibilities to make everyone’s life easier. Clients have enough problems on their plates. It is crucial to help them by providing logistically and financially sound options.

What new work procedures have you implemented in light of new health and safety guidance recommendations?
We check everyone for fever with a temperature gun. Hand sanitizer is always available. Washing hands is encouraged. We have a work-from-home rotation and flexible hours to help the team avoid peak-hour commute. And one person per department is allowed in the office to increase personal space.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months? One year from now?
In six months, I hope flights will steadily resume and passenger loads will increase. IFE content refreshes will slowly return to the normal cycle, and the supply from our producers will pick up once they’re able to release their films in cinemas. We will have to deal with the uncertainty of how quick the recovery will be. But the industry will overcome the crisis like it has done before.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.