Etihad To Remove First Class Chefs From Flights

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has said that it plans to eliminate its inflight first class chefs as well as food and beverage managers in the coming weeks. The decision on Sunday was due to the coronavirus crisis. Etihad has said it has been forced to evolve and operate in the most efficient way, which has led to the streamlining of inflight crew roles.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Etihad Airways is cutting the positions due to COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

An inflight chef’s job on Etihad Airways was to help first-class customers personalize the airline’s premium food offerings by guiding them through the menu. Meanwhile, food and beverage managers act as onboard sommeliers and stand out from the rest of the cabin crew due to their white jackets.

Changes were needed

Here is a copy of the emailed memo sent to employees by Etihad management that was obtained by airline news website Paddle Your Own Kanoo:

“To make us fit for our current business needs will, unfortunately, mean that the crew community will need to go through a further transitionary period, and regretfully, there will be some redundancies to certain crew roles,” the memo explained.

“Our premium cabin services have always formed a key part of our commercial offering, but they have had to be reevaluated in light of the ongoing pandemic as with many aspects of the business.

“As part of this, we have had to make the difficult decision to discontinue. the Inflight Chef and Food & Beverage Manager positions in First and Business.

“We are incredibly proud of our talented crew and the contribution they have made to our business in these roles, and this development is not in any way a reflection of performance. It is simply another devastating consequence of COVID-19 and a change that cannot be avoided based on the current climate that we find ourselves in.”

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Why has Etihad eliminated these positions?

From its inception, Etihad Airways wanted to stand out from the crowd by offering the finest products and a quality of service that was second to none. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the Etihad Airways experience is different for the following reasons:

  • Passenger numbers are down
  • Social distancing is now the norm
  • Interaction between passengers and cabin crew has been minimalized
  • Food products are pre-packaged to avoid contamination
Etihad first class
Having to wear PPE and limit passenger interaction has made in-flight chefs not necessary. Photo: Etihad

As for Etihad Airways, they saw that the positions were no longer needed and that it would save them money because:

  • They received higher pay for their specialist jobs
  • Having various levels of cabin crew is inefficient
  • It makes scheduling more difficult
  • They needed to have special training
  • Eliminating the positions will allow Etihad to cut catering expenses

COVID-19 has made the jobs redundant

In addition to being first class chefs and sommeliers, the people performing these jobs also helped the cabin crew. From what we understand, they will now be offered positions as business class flight attendants.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787
During COVID-19 paying extra for first class has lost its appeal. Photo: Etihad

Given the current situation with flying, many people who would usually pay extra for premium seats find an uncrowded economy a much better value. This is especially so in shorter haul flights where a flat lay seat is not a priority. Perhaps when passenger numbers return, and the PPE is not required to be worn, Etihad Airways will bring back the positions, but for now, at least it makes a lot of sense.

What do you think about Etihad Airways eliminating these positions? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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