Etihad is preparing to rehire some of the thousands of staff it laid off at the height of the pandemic in the latest sign that the aviation industry is beginning to recover as travel restrictions are rolled back despite rising infection rates in many markets.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline has asked employees who were made redundant to register their interest in being rehired under what it refers to as its alumni programme. It wasn’t immediately clear when Etihad will start rehiring employees including cabin crew and ground agents.
The airline laid off around a third of its entire workforce as a result of the massive drop in demand caused by the pandemic. Some workgroups were, however, more affected than others – the number of cabin crew more than halved to 2,370 crew according to the latest figures released by the airline.
Etihad was already positioning itself to become a much smaller airline but the pandemic has accelerated some of those plans and it’s unlikely that every employee who was made redundant will have a job to go back to.
The airline declined to say how many staff it planned to bring back.
Other airlines in the region have already started the process of rehiring laid-off workers including Qatar Airways who put out a job ad for former cabin crew to apply for their jobs back at the end of June. Laid off crew members have until July 24 to submit their applications.
Low-cost carrier flydubai put many of its cabin crew on long-term unpaid leave rather than making employees redundant and has been recalling crew since June. Emirates has been recalling furloughed pilots but the airline hasn’t announced any scheme to rehire laid-off cabin crew or other workers.
Late last week, Etihad launched its 65th destination to Vienna as it emerges from the pandemic. The airline has tried to capitalise on consumer desire for long-awaited getaways with the launch of flights to popular summer vacation destinations like Mykonos, Santorini and Malaga.
Laid off former employees looking to rejoin Etihad Airways are likely to be expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The airline was the first in the world to only operate flights with fully vaccinated pilots and cabin crew, and Abu Dhabi has some of the strictest vaccination rules in the world.
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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.