Emirates has warned its 600 strong UK workforce that it may need to slash employee numbers because the demand for air travel remains “extremely subdued”. The United Kingdom is one of the Dubai-based airline’s most important markets with the country ranking as the third most popular destination country from Dubai International Airport’s (DXB) as of September 2019 and London being its most popular destination city.
Before the COVID-19 decimated the aviation industry, Emirates served eight destinations in the UK alone but demand is failing to take-off despite the fact Dubai has been open to international visitors since July.
In an internal memo, the airline told UK workers that it would now need to “consider reducing the size of the UK workforce” because the demand for air travel remains “extremely subdued”.
“We have to reduce the scale of the operation in order to protect our cash flow and safeguard our business, to ensure that we have a viable future,” the memo continued.
While no final decision has yet been made, a government furlough scheme that covers 80 per cent of wages with taxpayer money for surplus employees will be closed at the end of October. At that point, Emirates will need to start paying all of its employees whether there is work for them or not.
The airline has already made thousands of Dubai-based employees redundant and at least one-tenth of the airline’s global workforce have been laid off because of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, demand for travel to Dubai from the UK is unlikely to pick up anytime soon. The UAE remains on a mandatory quarantine list for Brits returning from the country – including if they’ve only transferred through the airport from another flight. A recent surge in COVID-19 cases means Dubai will likely not be added to the UK’s safe travel corridor list anytime soon.
“Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our business. While we have restarted operations wherever it is safe and commercially viable, our operations footprint today is significantly smaller than before and it will take time for us to recover to pre-pandemic levels,” a spokesperson told the Telegraph Newspaper.
“Regretfully this means that we’ve had to resize our workforce in line with our reduced operational requirements, resulting in redundancies across all markets, including in the UK,” the statement continued.
“Our people have always been a significant factor to our success so this is not an action that we take lightly. We continue to take every possible action to keep our colleagues and customers safe, reduce costs, restore revenue streams, and preserve jobs.”
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.