Etihad Airways has reportedly laid off hundreds of employees, including flight staff, after the global COVID-19 pandemic caused it to cancel flights. According to international news organization Reuters, citing Etihad sources, the Abu Dhabi-based airline has made a large number of its employees redundant.
Before the state-owned airline grounded all its passenger flights in March due to the impact of the coronavirus, the Gulf carrier had around 20,500 employees. Now, inside sources tell Reuters that hundreds of staff had been let go this month with more expected to follow.
Etihad plans to resume flights in June
When asking Etihad to comment on the news, an airline spokeswoman admitted that there had been cuts in all departments saying:
“It is clear the demand for travel in the near future will be significantly reduced, and as a result, we must make difficult decisions to ensure Etihad will weather this storm.”
Etihad now plans to resume flights sometime in June but will if the reports are correct, be a leaner, more efficient airline.
As the coronavirus lockdown loosens, many airlines will have to plot a path out of hibernation. In many cases, this will involve new rules regarding social distancing and how flights are operated.
It could take two years for the airline industry to recover
Some airline executives are saying that it could be at least two years until flights reach the levels they were at before the coronavirus hit. With this in mind, senior management is looking at their entire operations to see where they can cut staff.
Some may even use this opportunity to lay off some of their highest-paid employees, knowing that once business picks up, they can hire entry-level workers to help pick up the slack. While this might sound cruel and unfair, it is not just the airlines that will be doing this, but all businesses across the board.
Another way airlines will cope with fewer passengers is to operate fewer flights with the possible addition of dreaded stopovers. In recent years airlines boosted revenue by squeezing as many economy seats as they could into planes by shrinking seats sizes and legroom.
Now they are being told that they will have to space passengers out and keep seats empty, making it hard to operate profitable flights. Also, the once-lucrative business travel market may dry up as more and more business gets done by video conferencing.
There will be all kinds of new rules
As airlines prepare to take to the skies once more, they will look to keep fares to a bare minimum to entice passengers back. Once the numbers start to increase, the tariffs will go up as airlines look to recoup lost revenue from empty seats.
We are even seeing reports that suggest passengers will board and disembark planes in small groups to avoid contact with other people. On some airlines, if you need to go to the toilet, you will have to ask a member of the cabin crew first for permission. While all this may be speculation, it is hard to imagine what flying will be like under the new norm.
What do you think flying will be like after the coronavirus? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section.