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Reports: Etihad Airways Fires 60 Cabin Crew, Hundreds More Face Redundancy

Reports: Etihad Airways Fires 60 Cabin Crew, Hundreds More Face Redundancy

Confirmed: Etihad Won't Start Recruiting New Cabin Crew Until 2018

Sources claim Etihad Airways has taken its first drastic steps to cut costs by firing around 60 members of cabin crew. The cost-cutting measures have been prompted because of the financial crunch caused by the Coronavirus outbreak according to people familiar with the matter.

Up to 400 more members of cabin crew could face being made redundant in the coming days and weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic caused passenger demand to plummet. Further pressure has been heaped on Etihad and many other airlines because of travel bans and entry restrictions being imposed by governments around the world.

Etihad Airways to Axe 50 Pilots By End of January in Major Cost Cutting Drive
Photo Credit: Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways employs nearly 5,000 cabin crew and over 2,000 pilots out of a total workforce of more than 20,000. Only around 12 per cent of the airline’s employees are local Emirati’s, with the rest of the workforce made up of expat workers from 150 different nationalities.

In the months leading up to what has now been described as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Etihad had been actively recruiting new cabin crew in special events held around the world. Like neighbouring Emirates, the airline has hastily put on hold any further recruitment days.

In the last few days, Etihad temporarily cancelled all services to over 30 destinations and reduced flights to a number of other destinations. Earlier this month, Etihad revealed it had made an annual loss of $870 million for 2019. The airline has been in the red since 2016 when it reported a net loss of $1.87 billion.

The airline has also introduced a number of other measures to reduce costs, which include:

  • Everyone in the company agreeing to take at least one week of unpaid leave
  • Bringing forward annual leave which would normally be used in the second half of the year
  • An expectation that everyone will sign up for further unpaid leave “as part of your support to the company”

“I know such measures are inconvenient,” wrote Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad’s chief operations officer yesterday. “However, to support our organisation, our actions must be louder than our words. We are a united family as we have always been and, with your support, we will come out of this stronger,” the memo continued.

Etihad has been contacted for comment but had not replied before publication on Friday evening.

Last week, Qatar Airways fired nearly 500 of its own workers, who were mainly engineering and ground staff, from the Philippines and India. Many of the workers were told they were being redundant without warning or notice. The way in which the mass-lay off was handled led to the Philippines international labour office to file a complaint.