Doha-based Qatar Airways is preparing to re-hire potentially hundreds of pilots it made redundant at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. In recent days, laid-off pilots have received a letter from the airline asking them to urgently submit applications with the hope they could rejoin the Qatari national airline within months or even weeks.
Mainly foreign ex-pat pilots whose jobs were axed after Qatar Airways dramatically scaled by its flight operations in response to an unprecedented drop in travel demand have been told the airline is “now looking to restart recruitment activities”. The offer of reemployment is specifically for pilots type-rated on Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The letter says the airline “would like to invite you to rejoin the airline at the earliest opportunity,” suggesting some pilots could be moving back to Doha within weeks. The positive news comes despite confirmation from Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker that the airline would make thousands more staff redundant in the near future.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline laid-off around 15 per cent of its global workforce. Despite managing to regrow its network to around 130 destinations, Qatar Airways has been battered by continuing travel restrictions that it says necessitates the need to slash thousands more jobs, or around a further 5 per cent of its workforce.
The airline has, however, benefited from the lifting of a regional blockade led by Saudi Arabia. In recent weeks, Qatar Airways has been able to restart flights to Saudi, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt after a near three and a half year absence.
“You may have been following the airline’s significant efforts and achievements in overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic in recent months,” the letter tells those pilots who have been invited to apply for their jobs back.
“We are pleased to say this has not only included the gradual rebuilding of our global network, which currently stands at 130 destinations, but also an extension of the airline’s Boeing fleet.”
“A member of the Pilot Recruitment and Selection team will be in touch with you shortly to discuss your current availability …and the rejoining process,” the letter continues.
Expat pilots who kept their jobs had their pay cut by as much as 25 per cent as part of the airline’s cost-cutting moves to weather the Corona crisis. Basic pay has been frozen for at least five years and generous allowances have been slashed by as much as 40 per cent. Hourly flying pay has also been cut, although pilots still get to live in free company-provided accommodation.
The pay cuts only applied to foreign pilots. Local Qatari pilots were not hit by the cost-cutting measures.
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.