Emirates has confirmed that it has asked “some” pilots to take as much as 12-months off in unpaid leave as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to decimate the airline industry and drastically reduce travel demand. The airline did not say how many pilots it had asked to take unpaid leave or whether they would ordinarily work on the Dubai-based carrier’s largely grounded fleet of Airbus A380’s.
“We can confirm that we’ve offered some of our pilots unpaid leave for 12 months, with the possibility of an early recall back to duty depending on how quickly demand rebounds and our operational requirements,” a spokesperson for the airline told Reuters on Wednesday.
Emirates has resumed service to nearly 100 destinations after grounding all flights in late March as the world went into lockdown because of the novel Coronavirus. The airline’s schedules, however, remain significantly reduced compared to what it was operating before the demand for travel plummeted.
In July, Emirates embarked on a massive cost-cutting exercise with some reports suggesting that as many as 600 pilots were made redundant in little over a day. Hundreds of cabin crew have also been laid off over several rounds of redundancies and around a third of the airline’s total workforce have been axed since the beginning of the crisis.
Cabin crew have also been asked to take as much as five months off in unpaid leave, while many crew coming to the end of their contracts have not had their employment renewed.
Emirates said it would continue to offer accommodation, medical coverage and some other limited allowances for pilots or other employees who volunteered to take unpaid leave. Pilots normally live in private villas supplied by the airline, whereas cabin crew are required to live in shared apartments.
Sir Tim Clark, the longtime president of Emirates who has delayed his retirement to handle the Corona crisis, described the pandemic as a “black swan” event but in recent months has attempted to strike a much more upbeat assessment of the situation.
Sources claimed Emirates was planning to decommission as much as 40 per cent of its Airbus A380 fleet but while Clark initially said the double-deck aircraft “was over” because the COVID-19 pandemic had changed travel patterns, he now believes there’s a future for the A380 as Emirates’ flagship aircraft for years to come.
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.