Last Thursday was not a good day for Dubai-based airline, Emirates. The Gulf carrier posted a profit of just AED1.3 billion ($353 million USD) in its annual results – a massive 80% drop between 2015 and 2016. Emirates has described the last 12-months as “brutal” and all indications are that the year ahead will be just as bad – if not worse.
Staff have been informed that there won’t be any bonuses or profit sharing this year. The CEO of Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said 2016 had been “one of our most challenging years to date.”
In a flurry of both internal communications and public press releases, Emirates made certain that everyone knew times were tough. The airline needed to start tightening its belt. But the actions of Emirates’ most senior managers have attracted criticism from some staffers. In the last few days, Emirates Cabin Crew and other employees have been laughing at a Facebook parody post that brilliantly trolls the airline’s management.
“We giving out bonus this year? Lol”
The doctored Facebook post takes aim at the CEO of Emirates along with the airline’s President (Tim Clark), the Vice President of Service Delivery (Terry Daly) and the Senior Vice President of Cabin Crew (Lynda Briody). It imagines a conversation between the four, following news of the financial results.
The post is started off by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum who asks “(are) we giving out a bonus this year? lol”. Tim Clark, the airline’s President replies by suggesting that staff could make do with a 25AED Costa Coffee voucher – After all, the Emirates Group does own the UAE franchise for the popular British coffee shop.
At this point, Terry Daly, Vice President of Service Delivery chips in by suggesting “a 2 weeks salary deduction”. Daly is believed to be a deeply unpopular and divisive figure within the organisation.
Senior Cabin Crew Manager Doesn’t Escape Criticism
Luckily, Lynda Briody steps into the imaginary conversation to chastise Daly. She joined Emirates just over a year ago as Senior Vice President of Cabin Crew. Briody has overseen a more conciliatory and positive relationship with the 25,000 Cabin Crew she oversees. Although, not even her ability to win over staff can save her from being roasted.
Her frequent video updates, to increase engagement with crew leads Clark to suggest nobody watches her videos. In the parody conversation, she suggests making a video to dismiss staff who the airline can no longer afford with just a weeks notice.
The Facebook sketch is just one of many light-hearted memes created by Emirates own staff and posted on social media in the last few weeks. Many posts examine the apparent lack of business sense in decisions made by managers.
Hiring Only for “Absolutely Critical” Roles
Yet, the stoic humour of Emirates’ own staff can’t hide the grim reality of life at the airline.
The situation has now become so desperate the airline has announced a raft of measures to control costs – including a pay freeze affecting all staff. However, the airline is attempting to avoid redundancies by instead offering unpaid leave to staff in non-operational roles.
Of course, you can’t run an airline without Cabin Crew but future recruitment may also be affected as Emirates looks to fill roles only if “absolutely critical.”
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.