Emirates Set To Cut 9,000 Positions In Total

Emirates has plans to reduce its workforce by 15% of pre-pandemic levels – more specifically, the airline will ax 9,000 of the 60,000 jobs it employed before the onset of COVID-19. The news came via a BBC interview with Emirates president Sir Tim Clark. Up until this point, the Middle Eastern giant had not disclosed the magnitude of any workforce cuts.

Emirates 777 Getty
Through the most severe phase of this crisis, the airline had to park its Airbus A380s and rely mainly on its Boeing 777s for repatriation and cargo operations. Photo: Getty Images

9,000 jobs cut

The news coming from Sir Tim Clark doesn’t come as much of a surprise as many airlines around the world have had to make similarly tough decisions. Sir Tim, however, says his airline is “not as badly off as others.”

“We will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15%.” -Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline via BBC

Emirates cabin crew on A380
Emirates has been relatively secretive about its workforce-reduction numbers. Photo: Emirates

In a June statement, the airline had the following the say to Simple Flying:

“We have endeavoured to sustain the current family as is, and we reviewed all possible scenarios in order to sustain our business operations, but have come to the conclusion that we unfortunately have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us…We do not view this lightly, and the company is doing everything possible to protect the workforce wherever we can.”

The airline goes on to say that these tough decisions will be made while treating people with fairness and respect.  It says that it will work with impacted employees to ensure they are looked after and taken care of with necessary means.

Up to 1,400 pilot jobs cut

It is likely the 9,000-job figure includes the recent news that the airline will layoff 700-800 pilots in addition to the 600 it already let go of last month. Speaking with CNBC-TV18, an airline spokesperson said the following:

“We can confirm that we are still in the process of implementing the redundancy exercise across our group, as previously communicated. While we have slowly restarted operations…our footprint today is significantly smaller than before and it will take a while for us to recover to pre-pandemic levels…as a responsible business, we simply must right-size our workforce in line with our reduced operational requirements,”

The BBC reports that the pilot cuts have been focussed on those who fly the Airbus A380, rather than Boeing aircraft. However, CNBC-TV18 reports that the latest round of layoffs includes Indian expats as well as both A380 and B777 pilots.

Emirates suspend operations getty images
Reports indicate that hundreds of pilots received layoff notices in the past week.
Photo: Getty Images

Cuts are industry-wide

These latest moves only serve to demonstrate that Emirates is not immune to the economic impact of COVID-19. However, Sir Tim has a point when he states that his airline is not doing as badly as other carriers.

Indeed, Air Canada had to layoff over half of its workforce, shrinking its 38,000 employees to around 18,000. Other airlines have had to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the United States, seeking debt protection and relief from creditors. These airlines have mainly been located in South America and include Aeromexico, LATAM, and Avianca. On the other side of the globe, Thai Airways has also been going through its own bankruptcy proceedings in recent months.

How long do you think it will be before Emirates can begin to hire back some of these employees? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Simple Flying contacted Emirates for an official statement regarding the news. However, no response was received at the time of publication.