Emirates airline asks staff for more unpaid leave

India-Dubai flights remain suspended: Emirates

Web Report

Emirates airline has offered voluntary unpaid leave to its cabin crew as carriers around the world struggle to cope with the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the air travel industry through different cost-cutting measures.

“We can confirm that we had offered cabin crew the opportunity to apply for voluntary unpaid leave. We will not be providing figures on employee take-up,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement.

Quoting an internal memo, a news agency reported earlier that the carrier’s crew was told that they can take unpaid leave between one and three months, starting from September 1 to November 30.

Emirates also been reducing its workforce in line with decline in demand for air travel over the next few years due to the pandemic. It reportedly let go some of its crew last week.

Due to low demand, airlines have kept some of their aircraft grounded despite some recovery in air traffic over the past couple of months. The airlines are slowly and cautiously increasing their route networks.

Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer of Emirates, said last week that the airline will be serving 100 per cent of its network destinations by summer 2021. It is currently serving more than 70 destinations.

The UAE’s second full-service carrier Etihad Airways also said in a memo to its employees that it has surplus workforce, and its crew can take between 10 days to six months of unpaid leave from September 16 onwards, Reuters reported. However, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s response was awaited on the report till the filing of this report. Etihad is currently serving more than 60 cities.

In May this year, the Dubai carrier had said it had not announced any mass redundancies after some media outlets reported that the Dubai-based world’s largest international carrier is considering cutting about 30,000 jobs, according to media reports.

However, the airline’s spokesperson said in a statement that all departments have been asked to review costs.

“No announcement has been made regarding mass redundancies at the airline. Any such decision will be communicated in an appropriate fashion. Like any responsible business would do, our executive team has directed all departments to conduct a thorough review of costs and resourcing against business projections, even as we prepare for gradual service resumption,” an Emirates spokesperson said in the statement.

“As our Chairman has said, conserving cash, safeguarding our business, and preserving as much of as our skilled workforce as possible, remain our top priorities through this period,” said the statement.

Quoting sources, Bloomberg reported that Emirates will reduce workforce by 30 per cent and is also considering accelerating the retirement of A380 fleet.

Emirates airline profit grew 21 per cent to Dh1.1 billion in 2019-20, helped by 10% drop in operating costs 15% drop in fuel bill. Its total revenue recorded a decline of 6 per cent to Dh92 billion. While overall passenger traffic declined four per cent as Emirates carried 56.2 million passengers.

“For the first 11 months of 2019-20, we were on track to deliver against our business targets. However, from mid-February things changed rapidly as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, causing a sudden and tremendous drop in demand for international air travel,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

He noted that the Covid-19 pandemic will have a huge impact on the Group’s 2020-21 performance due to Covid-19. “We expect it will take 18 months at least, before travel demand returns to a semblance of normality.”