It has today been reported that Middle East carriers Emirates and Etihad are asking cabin crew to take unpaid leave from next month. In the wake of the global pandemic, the United Arab Emirates-based airlines have already cut thousands of jobs.
Unpaid leave and job losses for airline staff
A report by Reuters today reveals that Emirates and Etihad have again asked flight crew to take unpaid leave. The move comes as the airlines attempt to control the damage done to their businesses by the coronavirus pandemic. The information has come from internal sources and memos to staff.
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The COVID crisis has decimated the aviation industry, and thousands of jobs have already been lost at the UAE companies.
Emirates has told cabin crew in an internal memo that from September 1 to November 30, they can take between one- and three-months unpaid leave due to its anticipated staffing needs. According to sources, the airline also continued a program of redundancies that started in July by laying off more crew last week.
In an internal email, Etihad told its cabin crew that it had more staff than it needed. Many of the crew were not being rostered on flights, and that is not sustainable for the business. The memo said that from September 16, crew could take between 10 days and six months of unpaid leave.
In March, both airlines also asked pilots and cabin crew to take unpaid leave as flights were grounded. Etihad laid off hundreds of employees in May, and in July, Emirates revealed plans to cut its workforce by 15% with the loss of 9,000 jobs.
Middle East airlines’ slow but steady recovery
The big three Middle East airlines, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, managed to continue flying throughout the pandemic, although at significantly reduced capacity.
Emirates managed to show a profit in the financial year to March 31, but the company’s president, Tim Clark, admitted that the short-term outlook was not good. However, in a more optimistic report, the airline is hoping to have 100% of its routes operational by next year.
In contrast, Etihad saw a 58% drop in passenger numbers in the first six months of 2020 over the same period in 2019. The figures resulted in an operating loss of $758 million for that period.
Despite travel restrictions, Qatar had still carried more than two million passengers during the pandemic. Although its figures for this period won’t be available until next year, the state-owned carrier looks set to emerge from the crisis the strongest of the three airlines.
Emirates and Etihad to keep flying the A380
While many airlines have sidelined or retired their superjumbos, Emirates is still flying the Airbus A380. However, the giant of the skies has been replaced by smaller aircraft on some routes until passenger demand picks up.
Etihad’s ten A380s remain grounded for the time being, but the airline has said that it has no plans to retire the aircraft. The carrier said it would bring the superjumbos back into the network when demand returns.
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