Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has asked hundreds of cabin crew to take up to six months of unpaid leave as the airline continues to deal with depressed demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Etihad Airways has already laid-off hundreds of cabin crew but in a new memo, the carrier tells staff that it still has more crew than it needs and the situation isn’t sustainable.
Cabin crew will have the option to take between 10-days and six months of unpaid leave in order to help Etihad temporarily reduce its headcount and while capacity remains way below pre-COVID levels.
The airline recently rebuilt its network to up to 58 destinations but capacity and frequencies are much reduced. On Tuesday, China slapped Etihad with an extended Shanghai flight ban for an additional week following a number of passengers testing positive for COVID-19.
Etihad was already barred from flying between Abu Dhabi and Shanghai for one week from August 17 but this has now been extended for a further seven days. The airline has also had to recently remind would-be tourists that Abu Dhabi remains off-limits with the borders only open to UAE citizens and residents.
Last month, Emirates asked cabin crew to take up to four months of unpaid leave in a similar move to temporarily reduce payroll expenses without permanently laying off staff.
Emirates hopes to have rebuilt its network to as many as 85 destinations by next month and unlike Etihad, it’s home city of Dubai is open to tourists. Nonetheless, passenger load factors are currently hovering at around 40 per cent as continuing travel restrictions put many potential passengers off travelling.
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.