Both Etihad Airways and Emirates of the UAE have recently reported poor financial results. Etihad openly announced that staff would be made redundant and new openings not filled. Emirates, however, has been rather more tight-lipped about the impact its poor performance might have on staff – until now.
It was already known that Emirates had suspended cabin crew recruitment. Candidates who passed the application process back in the summer had endured a long wait for more news on their applications. Only now are these applicants receiving updates from Emirates – Most have had bad news. Some have been told their offers of employment have been withdrawn by the airline. Others are indefinitely being kept on hold with no indication of how long for.
Staff Made to Reapply for Their Own Jobs
Recent reports suggested that significant numbers of back-office staff at Emirates had been ordered to reapply for their jobs. The process that culminated in mid-January is understood to have resulted in many recruiters and Human Resources staff learning that their jobs have been culled.
Staff working in training and development have also been targeted. The impact on cabin crew recruitment and training could be massive.
Now, Emirates has admitted to Arabian Business that “a very small number of staff” had been affected by job cuts but refused to comment on the exact numbers involved.
“A very small number of staff have recently been impacted”
An Emirates spokesperson was reported as saying: “A very small number of staff have recently been impacted by modest restructuring in the company. Where roles were impacted, full support has been given to explore redeployment opportunities within the organisation. Some employees were transferred into lateral roles on their existing benefits package, and a number have moved into both more senior and more junior roles, which can have an impact on the benefits package.”
The spokesperson intimated that the changes were perfectly routine and downplayed its significance: “Like any responsible company, Emirates continuously reviews its operations to ensure we have the right resources, skills and structure to support both current and future needs in a dynamic industry,”
Also involved in the restructuring programme is a review of housing that Emirates provides its staff in Dubai. The airline has chosen not to review leases on some properties as staff find themselves moved to cheaper and less desirable neighbourhoods throughout the city.
Changes Won’t be Easy to Implement
Christophe Muller, recently brought into Emirates as the Chief Transformation Officer had set his sights on cutting the layers of management – frequently derided as bloated and inefficient. But pushback from the Emirates National Development Programme is understood to be stifling Muller’s attempts at streamlining the company.
In a recent blog post, Tom Burgess, a former IT manager for Emirates foresaw the demise of the Human Resources department: “…we read that, among the first people to leave the Emirates Group, are those involved in recruitment. If true, this is the sort of mistake that a school leaver would make.”
Separately, an unconfirmed rumour suggests that with recruiters and trainers being made redundant Emirates may not be in a position to train any new recruits until 2018 at the earliest. At the time of publication Emirates had not officially commented on this report.
Update: 24th January 2017
In a statement made to the UAE-based newspaper, The National, Emirates sought to downplay the significance on recent restructuring efforts: “This is no different from previous years. Role and structure reviews in some areas impacted less than 40 staff during this same period, and a number of these were on a voluntary basis,”
The spokesperson said that about 1,000 staff had left Emirates in the past three months and the vast majority of these were through natural attrition.
Photo Credit: Emirates
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.