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Emirates Tells Cabin Crew to Work for Free in Latest Cost-Cutting Move

Emirates Tells Cabin Crew to Work for Free in Latest Cost-Cutting Move

a person in a white uniform and mask standing in a row of seats

Cabin crew working for Dubai-based airline Emirates have been told that they won’t be paid for completing mandatory training courses and that the government-owned carrier will now expect them to work for free. Training courses that will now go unpaid include at least a two-day mandatory safety refresher course that all cabin crew must complete once per year.

In response to the slump in travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirates has already fired thousands of cabin crew and pilots and asked many more to take months of voluntary unpaid leave. A significant number of the foreign expat crew who took leaves of absence are unlikely to return to Dubai as working conditions deteriorate.

New Emirates Cabin Crew receiving practical SEP training on a mock Boeing 777. Photo Credit: Emirates

“Following a review of costs across all areas, we have taken the difficult decision to cease allowances for training days,” wrote Emirates’ head of in-flight service Thomas Ney in an internal memo. “As a trainee, this means you will no longer receive credit for days where you are being trained,” the memo continued.

In the past, Ney has spearheaded other controversial cost-cutting ideas including reducing the number of cabin crew working on certain flights, plans to reduce medical coverage benefits, and cutting layover periods on ultra-long-haul flights.

Cabin crew at the airline also faced massive pay cuts earlier this year as part of Emirates’ initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with losing out on flying allowances after nearly all flights were grounded in late March, the airline first slashed basic wages by a quarter before trimming wages them by a further 25 per cent.

Full basic pay was only restored in October, although the airline’s chairman and chief executive Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum warned staffers that costs would need to be kept to a minimum.

Along with annual recurrent training, cabin crew returning from an extended leave of absence must complete a four-day training course and some in-flight service training lasts for as long as a week – all of which will go unpaid.

Last month, Emirates posted its first half-year loss for over 30-years, saying the airline had lost $3.4 billion between April and September 2020. Emirates carried just 1.5 million passengers during that same period, during which the airline made 24,300 employees redundant.

View Comments (23)
  • Lolll u make the title so appealing so people can read your lies……No one work for free this is just an adjustment done by the hr regarding the training. Ek crew were the few ones in the world who used to be paid while having a training same time, and I believe this is just temporarely.

    • Emirates has turned into a sweat shop airline. They will end up with staff only from 3rd world countries. Maybe the staff can eat sand on their unpaid training days. You can be sure management like that old goat Tim Clark won’t be taking a pay cut. It’s lower paid staff that are made suffer first at Emirates. Everything is compulsory for Emirates airline crew.So glad I made the right choice in leaving Dubai your years ago.

      • Only if we all try to make this a one world.
        Why 1st world 2nd world and 3rd world.
        I would rather not be on a plan (preferably not in a world) with such minded crew (people)

        • Reply to One World And Lots of Love:
          Third world is a statement about their economies and the treatment of their workers. Have you anything to add of substance to the article? Maybe I got confused and thought you were trying to defend Emirates work practices, if so, shame on you. I won’t be flying Emirates again.

          • China and India are also considered 3rd world according to Western Standards . While both economies can buy 90% of the First world countries!! wake up and smell the air my friend. In fact UAE is also not classified first world , so why were u working in UAE? look after your your rotten first world . 7.2 Million cases and counting in USA lol

          • Reply to Nish: China is actually considered 2nd world, like most communist countries. At Emirates there wasn’t that many Chinese working for the airline as it was a more complicated process for its citizens to work abroad. While Emirates often had an embargo on recruitment from India in place as they received far too many applications from India.
            Now Nish, any chance you would like to comment on the substance of the article which is Emirates poor treatment of its cabin crew?!

          • For your kind info John there is nothing like a second world. Country that have history as old as 200 years (USA) are now calling others 1st and 3rd is also a matter of joke. I hope Red Indians also agree!!
            Now coming back to substance no where its written Emirates treats its crew poorly. The article is about cost cutting move which is due to COVID. The 27 Trillion Dollar US debt is because of people like you my friend , no wonder western economies are finding hard to sustain . You want to be paid 10 times bcoz you consider yourself from First world and when you see someone take your job you accuse them of what not. Emirates any day has better standards than most of the US carriers and Western carriers

          • Reply to Nish: In the field of economics Communist countries are considered 2nd World countries. This is not something I have made up, it has been the standard for a long time. Examples are China,Cuba and North Korea. So you are wrong, China is not considered 3rd World. We can agree that India is definitely 3rd world across the spectrum.

          • Reply to Nish: You haven’t digested the article on Emirates poor treatment of cabin crew. I suggest you read the paragraph on reducing cabin crew on certain flights, cutting layover periods on ultra long haul flights, cutting cabin crew allowances and cutting medical benefits. The paragraph on cabin crew having massive pay cuts to their salaries and not paying cabin crew for their training. Did you decide to skim over the contents of the article. You also failed to notice the lack of pay cuts to overpaid English management at the company.
            As someone who has actually worked as cabin crew at Emirates , cabin crew were all paid the same salary in their grade regardless of nationality, the only exception were Emirati who received a bonus in their salary. Clearly Nish, you need to re-read the article again before commenting further.

    • Not true. In fact, years ago my initial training was as a paid employee (not much but paid). And my last “recurrent ” was paid at guaranteed minimum flight pay. I’m surprised that EK crew do not abandon ship mid rotation.

      • Abandon the ship and where would they go? I’m sure those who have not yet been made redundant are determined to work at EK, first because it’s their dream job, second – there’s no where else to go! The whole world is suffering right now but the aviation sector is one of those that were hit the most… But things will eventually get better. The only thing is to stay patient and go with the flow not against it.

        • Reply to Ex Etihad Crew:
          As Ex Emirates crew, I was recruited in my home city by Emirates on their open day. It may suprise you to know that the majority of crew come from all different backgrounds, working for an airline was not their only career choice or their first job. Some of my crew friends were studying courses online so that they could progress their career outside of aviation when they returned to their home countries. The average time working as Emirates crew is 7 years for most employees. Emirates airlines has at best, poor employee relations and at worst quite toxic.Conditions get worse at Emirates due to constant cost cutting, I know , I experienced it. Now would you like to comment on the substance of the article or are you just one of those people that seeks to defend Emirates regardless of their poor treatment of cabin crew.

  • “One of the few in the world?” Really? I’ve been paid for training days at every airline I’ve worked thus far, from turboprops to heavies. Keep drinking the kool-aid, though.

  • I think if Maktoum melted some of the gold from all his toilets he might just figure out a way to pay those pesky servents their much needed living wages!

    • Oh really? Isn’t that what’s actually going on now at EK? If so, than I wanna know where has the author taken this info from… and why?!

      • Reply to EX EY Crew:
        The source of the article is an internal memo from Thomas Ney, Manager of In- Flight Services at Emirates.
        Hope that clears that up for you.

  • Yeah I agree I left in December last year and I think they screw the crew on a regular basis have you ever heard of a company that has no staff and does well??
    Well it’s pretty clear if you look after your staff they in turn will look after your company but in EK they expect you to come on your days for mandatory training and do it for free what a joke and I feel sorry for the crew that don’t really have much choice as they have families back in there home countries that rely on there support, corporate greed!!!

  • I am still awaiting my refund of R58 000 after canceling in March our flights! BudgetAir has not received my refund from Emirates according to them. Our flights would have been 5 December 2020 to our kids in NZ.
    This is my life savings which I cannot loose. I will turn to the courts in January.
    Quick to take your money but not quick to refund!!
    I will make life’s mission to warn people against Emirates and BudgetAir on social media.

    • You spent your life savings on a plane ticket? It sounds like you couldn’t really afford to fly if you can’t afford to lose it.

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