Several days ago, Etihad Airways put a call out for volunteer cabin crew to exclusively operate flights to mainland China for a month during the novel Coronavirus outbreak. While Etihad needed around 70 members of cabin crew to step up to the challenge, the airline has been overwhelmed with over 300 crew who have put their name forward.
Unlike many international airlines, Etihad is continuing to operate flights to Beijing during the novel Coronavirus outbreak – the death count of which has now surpassed the SARS outbreak of 2012 and 2013.
While Etihad has suspended its services to both Chengdu and Shanghai, flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing will continue at the request of the UAE government. Emirates airline is also continuing to fly to Beijing to maintain an “air lifeline” to mainland China.
Etihad is offering cabin crew who volunteer for this assignment double flight duty pay and guaranteed three-day rotations with two days off in Abu Dhabi between flights. Meal allowances up to the value of CNY300 will also be offered for crew to spend on room service during their 15-hour layovers.
The airline was particularly interested in hearing from Chinese nationals, with an internal memo imploring them to “support China during this time”.
On Wednesday, Etihad temporarily suspended its flights to all other mainland Chinese destinations as “part of precautionary measures” to limit the spread of the outbreak. The UAE authorities were at pains, however, to express their confidence in the Chinese government to control the coronavirus outbreak.
Nonetheless, both Etihad and Emirates warned passengers to turn up at Beijing International Airport between 6 and 8 hours before scheduled departure for “comprehensive medical screening”.
In an attempt to convince crew about the low-risk of operating flights to mainland China, Etihad’s vice president of guest experience Linda Celestino recently operated a flight to Beijing with other senior managers.
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.