There’s been a lot of speculation about how well Emirates is performing at the moment – financially that is. Operationally, the airline has never done so well. The Dubai-based carrier recently picked up TripAdvisor’s first ever ‘Worlds Best Airline’ award and bagged the same prize from industry heavyweights, Skytrax.
But senior exec’s have been unusually open about the financial woes affecting their operation. Tim Clark, the airline’s President has warned of a “gathering storm“. There’s even been talk of merging operations with flydubai – a government-owned low-cost airline with a stronger Middle East route network.
And while Emirates is investing in some areas, it’s cutting back in others. Onboard food and beverage options have been cut, expensive staff accommodation has been slashed and aircraft deliveries have been deferred. Emirates has also introduced a new range of optional extras to encourage customers to spend more.
Meanwhile, the airline’s headcount is also being trimmed. Christophe Mueller – the chief digital transformation officer – has taken it upon himself to cut away the layers of middle management (affectionately known as the Costa Coffee Brigade for their penchant for using the coffee shop in the airline’s HQ to hold meetings).
How Bad is the Situation? Speculation Continues
But even with this new openness, commentators have still been speculating whether the situation is as bad or even worse than what is being said publicly. Experts have studied passenger load factors, yields and whether any aircraft have been grounded by Emirates.
Yet, it might be one of Mueller’s other decisions to stop Cabin Crew recruitment that might provide the most useful insight. As background, Emirates used to hold around 10-20 Cabin Crew recruitment events in different cities around the world each month. It was a year-round operation that provided a constant stream of new Cabin Crew. Every Open Day would attract hundreds of hopeful candidates.
But the recruitment roadshow was suspended in December. There has been no news from Emirates as to when they might start hiring new Cabin Crew again. The only time this has happened before was during the 2008 global financial crisis. Back then, Emirates suspended recruitment for about 6-months.
No Cabin Crew for Past 7 Months
However, we’re learning the current situation is even worse than a 7-month pause in recruitment. Successful candidates from events going all the way back to June and July 2016 were initially told they had passed the selection process and would join Emirates as soon as a training course became available.
But after waiting nearly a year in some cases, Emirates has now withdrawn the job offer. And they haven’t really gone into too much detail. Or even offered an apology. Angry hopefuls have shared the auto-generated email they received from the airline this week:
Now, in fairness to Emirates, they had never sent out signed contracts to these candidates. But they had never given any indication that the job offer might be withdrawn. In fact, after the initial delay, they even sent further email’s saying they were still waiting for available training courses.
Of course, a situation like this is a difficult balancing act to get right. It’s easy to see why a company wouldn’t want to admit fault or blame. Yet it’s hard to believe that Emirates recruiters don’t realise an auto-responder email isn’t even nearly appropriate as a way to deliver this devastating news. It’s frankly bizarre that the airline’s President is being so open and honest, yet the HR department has decided to go for a more opaque approach.
These hopeful new Cabin Crew must have thought it was only a matter of time before they got on a plane to Dubai and joined their dream company. Now the dream has been shattered and the way the news has been delivered has broken their faith in Emirates. it’s a shame as it could turn some of Emirates’ best brand advocates against the airline.
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.