Emirates has started a third round of mass lay-offs with hundreds of cabin crew and pilots receiving official redundancy notices by email on Wednesday. Some reports suggest as many as 600 Airbus A380 pilots have been told their services are no longer required. A similar number of A380 pilots were made redundant in June.
The Dubai-based airline declined to disclose the exact numbers of staff that have been laid off but a spokesperson said it was “still in the process of implementing the redundancy exercise.” Earlier this year, Emirates employed around 4,300 pilots and as many as 22,000 cabin crew.
“Like other airlines and travel companies, COVID-19 has hit us hard,” a statement from Emirates continued. “As a responsible business, we simply must right-size our workforce in line with our reduced operational requirements.”
Since being forced to ground nearly its entire fleet on March 25, Emirates has since resumed services to 52 destinations – around a third of its pre-COVID route network. On Tuesday, Dubai reopened its borders to foreign tourists but a rebound in passenger numbers to levels seen in late 2019 isn’t expected for another two to three years.
Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates told the Sunday Times that the airline was reviewing its staffing levels on a weekly basis but admitted the cuts would have life-changing consequences on those employees who are made redundant.
“We’re very mindful of the fact that it is destroying people’s lives,” Clark said of the layoffs, telling the paper that around one-tenth of the airline’s global workforce had already been slashed.
“We’ve got $50 billion of assets (aircraft), 22,000 cabin crew and 4,500 pilots not gainfully employed,” Clark explained. The longtime aviation executive, who helped start Emirates in 1985, said that while he expected all of the iconic Airbus A380’s to be pressed back into action it might not be until April 2022.
Remaining cabin crew have had their basic pay slashed by 50 per cent through to the end of September as the airline looks to save as much money as possible. Pay cuts have also been imposed on pilots and many other employees but not the lowest-paid workers like Cabin Service Attendants who are employed to clean toilets and the A380 First Class shower spa.
Emirates carried out the first two rounds of mass lay-offs with face-to-face meetings but has switched to sending emails notifying employees they will be made redundant.
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.