When will Emirates start recruiting Cabin Crew again? First, we thought March or April. Perhaps it will be in June? Or maybe the end of the year? There have been plenty of rumours but little hard fact – least of all from the airline itself. It reminds us of a famous quote: “You can hear rumours. But you can’t know them.”
That’s not to say we should dismiss every rumour or pour scorn on speculation from an inside source. Just because Emirates is keeping tight-lipped doesn’t mean that a rumour is unfounded or not worth listening to. And besides, we wouldn’t expect Emirates to keep us updated on every business decision they’re making.
But we crave information and sometimes we have to read between the lines, listen to the many voices and make an assessment of the information we hear. And occasionally one of the best sources of information is silence – the things that aren’t being said. This is where the Emirates Annual Report makes an appearance.
We’ve scoured the 209-page report for 2016/2017 to search for clues – a sign or some evidence of what the future holds in store for the airline and Cabin Crew recruitment. Here’s what we found:
Things are Bad But They’re Not That Bad
When Emirates announced its annual results last week the headline news couldn’t have been more alarming – an 82% drop in profits to just $340 million USD. But looking at profits doesn’t tell the whole story. Through 2016/2017, Emirates actually had revenue of $23.2 billion USD – That’s 23.2 BILLION.
Compare that with American Airlines who turned over $40bn USD in revenue in 2016. Emirates is already half way to making the revenues at what is considered the world’s largest airline by many metrics. How about other airlines? Well, British Airways only turned over $15bn USD in 2016, Lufthansa had revenues of $35bn USD and Cathay pacific had revenues of just $12bn USD.
“Against the challenges of the year, the Group’s financial and operational performance in 2016-17 speaks to our business resilience,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates.
Prediction: The financial position isn’t quite as bad as first thought. The airline continues to invest in the future. Expansion will continue and with that, the need for more Cabin Crew. As HH Maktoum says: “Moving forward, we continue to ready ourselves for the future, and build up our business resilience, by investing in our people.”
An Expanding Fleet
Okay, so why are profits so low yet revenue high? The good news here is that Emirates is heavily investing for the future. The carrier took delivery of 35 new aircraft last year – 19 Airbus A380’s and 16 Boeing 777-300 aircraft. To put that into perspective, a brand new A380 superjumbo at list price costs $432.6 million USD. A Boeing 777 isn’t much cheaper at $347.1 million USD.
The number of aircraft deliveries was staggering – the highest number completed in a single year, throughout the airline’s history. With a total fleet of 259 aircraft, the available passenger capacity has grown 10% in the last year.
Prediction: The Emirates fleet grew substantially in 2016 but the airline was extremely tight-lipped about plans for the year ahead. We already know that Emirates has deferred deliveries of some A380 aircraft this year. Both Boeing and Airbus have refused to comment on when they next plan to deliver a new aircraft to Emirates. We think that aircraft deliveries will slow to a trickle this year.
Investing for the future
Emirates added 6 new passenger destinations in 2016 and increased the number of routes served by the A380. Launching a new destination doesn’t come cheap – Entering new markets and deploying its flagship aircraft on additional routes means that Emirates is serious about making an impact in new and existing markets.
We’ve also seen a number of other investments – like the new onboard bar and lounge, upgraded amenity kits, an $11 million USD makeover of the Business Class lounge at Dubai International Airport, etc.
That being said, capital investment was down 24.5% on 2015 to $34 million USD – Emirates has put that down to lower pre-delivery payments for new aircraft.
On a more positive note, spending on things like staff accommodation remained steady at $5.4 million USD.
Prediction: Capital investment has slowly decreased each year since a peak in 2013. A positive sign remains in the airline spending heavily on staff accommodation – which would indicate that Emirates plans to hire more staff. However, we’ve already learnt that the airline is moving staff out of leased accommodation into wholly owned apartment blocks.
Reshaping Training and Recruitment
Emirates ran 50 recruitment events in 2016 but openly admitted their focus was on attracting pilots. With a lack of qualified flight deck staff worldwide, it’s hardly surprising that the airline would have to make an extra effort in this department.
But what about Cabin Crew? The annual report offers nothing. Compare that to 2015’s annual report where Emirates proudly boasted that their “cabin crew team grew to over 21,000-strong.”
We did, however, learn that Emirates is committed to a new way of recruiting staff. The airline said they had launched a new recruitment website (
it doesn’t look any different to us – is a relaunch still to come? Update 23rd May 2017: The new look website is now up and running) and had “introduced a new candidate screening process utilising digital technologies including online testing and video interviewing.”
How about training? Emirates ran 4,000 days of training in 2016 – that’s down from the 4,400 days delivered in 2015.
Prediction: Emirates has been very quiet about their Cabin Crew in this year’s annual report. However, they’ve specifically mentioned the changes made to recruitment processes so it looks like they are ready for the change. Now the recruitment team are just waiting for a green light.
The airline’s workforce grew by 5.8% to 64,768 – that’s 3,563 new staff hired in 2016, with the largest growth coming from Cabin Crew and Flight Deck crew. In fact, the number of Cabin Crew grew by 12.5% to 24,440 in 2016. Emirates now has so many Cabin Crew that it puts it on par with American Airlines.
Emirates boasts that it has one of the lowest staff attrition rates in the industry.
Prediction: Staff numbers have steadily increased year-on-year and 2016 was no different. Emirates is either going to have to reduce capacity significantly or start hiring again soon. Or perhaps the attrition rate is now so low they have retained enough staff for the time being?
Emirates isn’t about to go out of business or start running at a loss. Having read the annual report, we’re also more confident about the future of current employees. Nonetheless, 2017 is going to be a tough year. Emirates has been open and honest about the challenges its facing.
Do we now know when Cabin Crew recruitment will restart – No, unfortunately, that question remains unanswered. But hopefully, you’ll feel empowered by having read the facts.
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.