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A Group of Etihad Airways Cabin Crew Are Planning to Sue the Airline Over Being Laid-Off

A Group of Etihad Airways Cabin Crew Are Planning to Sue the Airline Over Being Laid-Off

A group of around 200 ex-Etihad Airways cabin crew who were recently laid-off because of the COVID-19 pandemic are planning legal action against the Abu Dhabi-based airline arguing that the way the redundancy programme was carried out was unfair and possibly illegal. Etihad has axed hundreds of cabin crew over the last few weeks and months because of the “unprecedented challenges” brought about by the Corona crisis.

While acknowledging that redundancies have been made across the business, the airline has not confirmed how many cabin crew have been laid off in recent weeks. There have, however, been several rounds of lay-offs with those affected told they should not see the redundancies “as being fired or ‘terminated” but instead a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In a bid to avert possible legal action over the redundancies, the airline has now invited ex-cabin crew involved in the lawsuit to a “leaving brief” where it’s hoped, the airline says, the two sides can reach an “amicable decision”.

The memo sent to the staffers involved reads:

“We understand that you’ve elected to challenge the decision related to your employment status with the company.”

“We would like to reiterate that what is happening right now, as a result of COVID-19, is unprecedented. In response, we’ve had to make many critical decisions to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of our business. Regrettably, these decisions have had a direct impact on you.”

“Notwithstanding, it’s important to acknowledge that we were once part of the same team, working together to deliver a world-class guest experience as a leading airline. We’d like to ask you to work together with us again.”

Etihad tells cabin crew that the online socially distanced meeting will allow for an “open forum where we can discuss what’s happening, see if we can reach an agreement and answer all your questions in relation to your active court claim”.

It’s not clear whether the cabin crew are seeking their jobs back or monetary compensation.

As of August 2019, Etihad had 20,500 employees, including nearly 5,000 cabin crew and 2,184 pilots. Around 88 per cent of Etihad’s employees are foreign expat workers who hail from over 150 countries.

In March, Etihad reported an annual loss of $870 million, stemming from a disastrous equity investment scheme that spectacularly backfired in 2016 and which plunged the government-owned airline $1.87 billion into the red. Since then, Etihad has dramatically scaled back its ambitions for international growth and has implemented a far-reaching cost-cutting programme which had been showing positive signs of success until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Etihad plans to have resumed services to as many as 58 destinations by August, dependent on the further easing of lockdown measures and border restrictions. Residents and citizens of the UAE are now allowed to travel freely to and from Abu Dhabi but tourists remain banned from entering the emirate.

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