Emirates is now asking its pilots and cabin crew to take a combination of paid and unpaid leave, two weeks after it asked the same of many other staff in other departments because of there were “more resources than required” across the business. The move to temporarily cut staff numbers comes as the Dubai-based airline slashed flight schedules because of the growing Coronavirus pandemic.
“You are strongly encouraged to make use of this opportunity to volunteer for additional paid and unpaid leave,” read an email sent to pilots, while a similar memo sent to cabin crew encouraged them to take paid leave wherever possible.
Emirates employs around 21,000 cabin crew, the majority of which are foreign expat workers. However, they have been urged not to attempt to return home during any periods of leave in an attempt to not only protect themselves from COVID-19 but to prevent the spread of the virus if they are currently asymptomatic.
With new travel restrictions being imposed day by day and airlines being forced to cut flights, any foreign workers who choose to return home may find themselves stuck.
Last week, Emirates suspended all cabin crew recruitment worldwide after initially trying to push ahead with hiring new employees. According to new reports, the airline is now mulling the very real possibility of grounding the vast majority of its 115 strong Airbus A380 superjumbo fleet.
It’s difficult to keep up with the number of route suspensions and schedule changes but current estimates suggest the airline has axed around a quarter of its normal schedule.
In recent days, Emirates has urged staffers to avoid all personal and non-essential business travel to “highly affected” countries hit by the global COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) previously estimated that the Coronavirus outbreak could cost global airlines as much as $113 billion but has since trashed that figure because of “severe measures” being implemented by the likes of the United States and India.
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.