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Qatar Airways to Fire Flight Crew and Slash Pay by up to 25% for Expat Pilots

Qatar Airways to Fire Flight Crew and Slash Pay by up to 25% for Expat Pilots

Qatar Airways is to fire a number of its pilots and slash the pay of others by up to 25 per cent according to a recently leaked internal memo which was originally sent to the airline’s flight crew on June 4. The airline previously told staffers that it would reduce its workforce by as much as 20 per cent in order to survive the Corona crisis and hundreds of cabin crew and ground staff have already been made redundant by the Doha-based carrier.

The document, first sighted by Bloomberg, sets out a plan to slash the pay of senior pilots by a quarter, while more junior flight crew will see their wages cut by 15 per cent. The pay cuts will only be imposed on foreign expat crew who make up the vast majority of Qatar’s pilot workforce. Local Qatari pilots will not be affected by the cost-cutting measures.

Photo Credit: Qatar Airways

In addition to swinging pay cuts, Chief Flight Operations Officer Jassim Al-Haroon said the airline would freeze basic pay for at least five years and could cut allowances for senior crew by 40 per cent. Hourly flying pay is also likely to be slashed by a quarter for the foreseeable future.

Pilots will continue to enjoy other benefits such as free company provided accommodation. Al-Haroon did not confirm how many pilots the airline is likely to lose or how much money is hoped to be saved through the measures set out in the letter.

In recent weeks, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has publicly spoken of the severe economic shock that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on his airline. Hundreds of its planes remain grounded and Baker says certain aircraft, like the Airbus A380 superjumbo, may never fly commercially again.

“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current staff numbers and we will need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant,” Baker told staffers in a May 4 letter.

“The global outlook for our industry looks grim and many airlines are closing or significantly reducing operations. Unfortunately, Qatari Airways is not immune to this challenge. Let me assure you that no effort was spared to keep all of our aircrafts (sic) in the skies,” the letter continued.

According to the government-owned airline’s latest annual report, the carrier employed approximately 47,000 employees as of early 2020.

Last week, rival Gulf airline Emirates started to lay-off pilots and cabin crew in droves as it too responded to the massive slump in travel demand caused by the pandemic. Some sources claim as many as 600 pilots were fired by the Dubai-based airline in a single day.

Qatar Airways has continued to fly throughout the crisis and has even become (if only temporarily) the largest international airline in the world. The airline is currently operating flights to 40 destinations worldwide and hopes to increase that number to 80 destinations by the end of June.

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