Emirates might be in the midst of a massive cabin crew recruitment drive but sources have now revealed the airline plans to cut the number of onboard crew on certain flights. Along with cutting crew numbers, the airline also plans to introduce changes to the service delivery in order to manage the crew complement reduction.
The Dubai-based airline had suspended recruitment for over a year in a bid to cut its cabin crew headcount – one of the largest expenses after fuel costs for any airline, but it had managed to retain crew numbers onboard. The changes will bring Emirates more in line with legacy European and North American carriers.
In an internal memo, the airline’s new vice president of service delivery, Thomas Ney says the changes are being introduced to “ensure consistency across our aircraft configurations.” Ney previously headed Guest Experience at now-defunct airberlin and has years of experience in the hotel and hospitality industry.
On some ultra long-range flights, the number of First Class cabin crew will be cut by one – meaning only three flight attendants will be available to serve up to 14 First Class passengers on flights like the 15-hour marathon Dubai to Los Angeles route.
Meanwhile, the number of cabin crew on two-class A380 flights, like the Dubai to Copenhagen and Dubai to Bangkok routes will be cut by one in Economy Class. An onboard supervisor will also be removed from Boeing 777-300 flights fitted with just Business and Economy Class cabins.
The changes are seemingly small – Emirates will have more supernumerary cabin crew helping to deliver the airline’s service than many of its competitors even after the reductions. But serving cabin crew have been quick to pour scorn on the proposals, leaving scathing comments on an internal discussion board.
Critics say the changes will make it impossible to deliver a quality service to passengers while others point out that onboard rest will become nearly impossible – even on some of the airline’s longest flights. Emirates already comes in for criticism for offering onboard rest periods that fall way below those enjoyed by cabin crew on competitor airlines.
But Ney has told crew the airline will be “reviewing our service routines across all cabins to refine and streamline our product offering” – further information will be released once the review is complete.
However, plans to introduce a dine-on-demand concept in Business Class may well be scuppered by these latest changes. It’s now highly expected that Emirates will revert to a trolley-based service in Business Class while – the airline already utilises mobile technology in its Business Class cabin to improve the speed of service.
Despite its recent financial difficulties, Emirates has consistently said it wouldn’t compromise on service delivery – up until now, that’s been largely true. The airline has continued to invest heavily in its product (such as its new ‘game-changing’ fully enclosed First Class suite) but this latest news could signal a change in direction.
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.