Now Emirates Has Asked Staff To Take Unpaid Leave

It’s a move that has been made or at least considered by other airlines around the world. Middle Eastern giant Emirates is the latest to make changes to its staffing in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The airline is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month as demand for air travel has plummets, causing suspensions to select routes.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Dubai
With travel restrictions going up, demand has been driven down. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The latest flight cancellations by Emirates

According to Reuters, Emirates has halted flights to Iran and Bahrain as the virus has broken out in the southwest Asian countries. This is in addition to flight cancelations to China – the epicenter of the disease.

With IATA ranking Emirates as the fourth-largest airline in terms of RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometer), the carrier now has much more capacity than it needs or can use. The airline first reduced capacity to select destinations, but as the problem worsens, complete service cuts have had to take place.

“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” – Chief Operating Officer Adel al-Redha in a statement on Tuesday.

While much of Emirates’ traffic is connecting traffic, a notable portion flies to Dubai as a destination. However, the city’s activities have been stifled as a result of the measures to contain the spread of the virus. Major concerts and events across the UAE have been canceled or postponed.

Recently IATA, encouraged national governments in the Middle East to consider assisting airlines by easing taxes and fees that would need to be paid in the midst of the lower demand.

The Emirates workforce

Emirates is asking its staff to consider taking paid and unpaid leave as it tries to manage a “measurable slowdown”. In fact, Emirates Group employs over 100,000 workers across its vast portfolio of subsidiaries.

For the airline itself, this includes more than 21,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots as of the end of March 2019. The Emirates Group also includes Dnata ground services, Emirates Holidays, and Emirates Leisure Retail – just to name a few.

Emirates year of tolerance flight
Emirates has over 21,000 cabin crew as part of its workforce. Photo: Emirates

Emirates employees join aviation workers in China – many of whom have already been asked to take leave while the outbreak continues.

Other Emirates precautions

Part of a statement provided by an Emirates spokesperson discusses its actions in response to the outbreak:

“…measures have included providing medical advice to our staff, implementation of practices at the airport to meet specific country travel requirements as well as adjusting our schedule and amending capacity to meet passenger demand across different regions. While we have seen some slowdown in certain markets there has been high demand in other areas.”

The airline adds that it takes the safety and health of its customers very seriously and it will continue liaising with international and local health organizations to ensure compliance with the most up-to-date medical guidelines and directives.

coronavirus, IATA, aviation impact
Coronavirus is having a serious effect on the aviation industry as a whole. Photo: Getty Images

Emirates says that it has also stepped up aircraft cleaning. Furthermore, when the airline is alerted to any suspect or confirmed cases of infectious diseases, it will disinfect all cabins of those aircraft.

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