- Rumour: Ab Initio classes to be suspended through August 2018
- Cabin crew say there are “exhausted” following staff cuts
- Crew who want to resign are now being put on a resignation waitlist
- Dine on demand WILL be introduced in Business Class
- Changes to in-flight rest are proving to be very unpopular
Responding to a news article on Emirates’ internal intranet, cabin crew have made it clear that they are not happy with recent onboard changes made by senior managers. Many comments left by staffers at the Dubai-based airline claim crew are feeling “exhausted” while others say they are “demotivated” and that crew are leaving the airline in droves.
In the last few months, we’ve reported on a number of changes that have been made to service standards and crew complements on some Emirates flights. Generally speaking, we’ve seen Emirates reduce the number of crew in each cabin by about one – although this very much depends on the aircraft type and route.
That might not sound like a huge cut but cabin crew are all too aware of how much their workload has increased because of the reduction in crew numbers. Managers have attempted to introduce some changes to the onboard service in an attempt to streamline the service and reduce the overall workload – something, crew currently say isn’t working.
In fairness to Emirates, this is a problem that has been faced by many so-called premium airlines in recent years. Take the Dutch carrier, KLM as an example – last year, cabin attendants went on strike over proposals to cut the number of Economy Class crew by one on certain intercontinental flights.
In the end, KLM got to make the reduction – a significant cost-saving – but only after making concessions to its crew. Yet in Dubai, cabin crew don’t have the luxury of a union to fight their corner – or the possibility of going on strike.
Sounding off instead on an internal forum which we have had the opportunity to read, one crew member said there was “a world between the service as advertised and the service we can actually deliver onboard”. Another said that “customers notice the changes are affecting the service negatively.”
And while Emirates might be trying to simplify some aspects of its service routine, it would appear that Business Class cabin crew are about to see their workload skyrocket. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the airline will introduce a Dine on Demand concept by the end of the year.
The plan which has been dreamt up by Emirates executive, Christoph Mueller will see Biz class passengers being able to customise their meals at any time. It’s part of a strategy to turn Emirates into a “high-end lifestyle company”.
Yet, struggling with the onboard service is the perhaps the least concern for many crew. The overwhelming theme from many crew is that they are exhausted – and perhaps even fatigued.
This is down to a number of factors, which include: tightly packed rosters with a high number of flights every month, long flying hours which are well in excess of 100-hours per month, little time off after long flights that have crossed multiple time zones, and a lack of annual leave availability due to staff shortages to maintain the schedule.
Already some of the hardest working crew in the industry, Emirates staffers now say the little in-flight rest they do enjoy is now being disrupted because of new rules which allow pursers to send crew on rest at different times.
And crew believe the staff shortages are only going to get worse. In fact, despite a massive recruitment drive, the number of crew resigning is still in excess of the new hires joining the company. The situation has now got so bad that a resignation waitlist has even been introduced – delaying crew from leaving the airline for a couple of months.
At the same time, however, we’ve heard that ab initio courses have been suspended through the end of August. While we haven’t been able to verify this rumour, if true, it would appear to be a bizarre decision at a time when crew are crying out for colleagues to join the company.
Senior managers haven’t yet to address the concerns raised by crew but a meeting between staff and management is expected soon.