In an internal memo, Etihad Airways has confirmed that it intends to axe First Class Inflight chefs and Food and Beverage (F&B) Managers in the coming weeks after the plans were exclusively revealed by pyok last month. In an email sent to staff on Sunday, Etihad said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced it to “evolve” and “operate in the most efficient way” which in turn has led to the streamlining of in-flight crew roles.
Etihad’s in-flight chefs can help personalise dishes for First Class passengers, preparing food on demand and helping guide customers through what is on offer. Meanwhile, F&B Managers act as onboard sommeliers and guide the service in Business Class. The F&B Managers stand out from the rest of the crew from the white jacket that they wear.
“To make us fit for our current business needs will, unfortunately, mean that they crew community will need to go through a further transitionary period, and regretfully, there will be some redundancies to certain crew roles,” the memo explained.
“Our premium cabin services have always formed a key part of our commercial offering, but as with many aspects of the business, they have had to be reevaluated in light of the ongoing pandemic,” the memo continued.
“As part of this, we have had to make the difficult decision to discontinue. the Inflight Chef and Food & Beverage Manager positions in First and Business.”
“We are incredibly proud of our talented crew and the contribution they have made to our business in these roles and this development is not in any way a reflection of performance. It is simply another devastating consequence of COVID-19 and a change that cannot be avoided based on the current climate that we find ourselves in.”
For now, Etihad will retain its Savoy-trained Butlers who are also fully certified cabin crew members. For now, the Butlers will be reassigned as Business Class flight attendants. The longterm future of the Butlers will be dependent on whether Etihad chooses to keep its fleet of Airbus A380’s which features the luxe three-room Residence cabin.
Etihad chief executive Tony Douglas recently confirmed that no final decision had yet been made on whether the A380 would be permanently grounded but he cautioned against the longterm future of the double-deck aircraft. For now, the A380 has been removed from Etihad’s schedules until at least next year.
In further news, Etihad announced changes to its ‘Flying Nanny’ programme. By 2017, over 2,000 cabin crew had been trained by childcare education specialists Norland College to be a dedicated onboard nanny on longer widebody flights.
Etihad will now end that partnership but will continue to offer the ‘Flying Nanny’ service by simply designating a member of cabin crew in that role on every flight regardless of length.
Since the Corona crisis decimated the aviation industry, Etihad has made thousands of employees across its business redundant. The airline has confirmed cuts to its cabin crew division but has declined to specify how many crew have been laid off to date. Cabin crew have been encouraged to take unpaid leave and salary cuts have been extended to the end of the year.
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.