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An Emirates Airbus A380 on final approach (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Emirates Announces A380 First Officer and Cabin Crew Layoffs

Not long after reports alleging that Emirates considered massive layoffs, the world’s biggest long-haul airline announced that they had to begin axing up jobs due to pandemic-related financial impacts. The company was said to be considering a plan to cut around 30,000 jobs — reducing the number of employees by around 30% — just two weeks ago.

Although details as to how many staff was laid off were not made public, it is said that approximately 180 pilots taking Airbus A380 type-rating training and 400 trainee cabin crew, who were within their probation period, have been let go.

The Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based airline said on Sunday that a reassessment of the current situation forced them to take this action to sustain their business operations in the months ahead.

The management had previously denied massive layoff reports, saying conserving cash, safeguarding their business and preserving as much of their skilled workforce as possible remained their top priorities through this period.

According to the statement, the company is continuously reassessing the situation and will have to adapt to this transitional period. Emirates indicating that this is the first phase of the layoff strategy, and more cuts might follow in the near future if revaluations reveal it’s necessary to protect the airline financially.

“During these difficult times, and although we have slowly started our return to the skies by keeping in line with the safety measures,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “The current pandemic has impacted many industries around the world and although we have endeavored to sustain the current family as is, we reviewed all possible scenarios in order to sustain our business operations, but have come to the conclusion that we, unfortunately, have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us.”

In the same statement, the airline stressed the gravity of the situation that led to the layoffs.

“We do not view this lightly,” the same spokesperson said. “and the company is doing everything possible to protect jobs wherever we can. Where we are forced to take tough decisions we will treat people with fairness and respect. We will work with impacted employees to ensure they are looked after and taken care of with necessary means.”

With this confirmation, Emirates has also joined the league of airlines that have had to start taking dramatic steps to save their businesses. The world’s largest long-haul carrier was the major airline in the Middle East that had best resisted layoffs despite the coronavirus crisis hampering the aviation industry. Other globally-known long haul carriers in the region Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways and Doha, Qatar-based Qatar Airways had announced job cuts months ago.

As the operator of the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s, Emirates was reported to be drawing up plans to accelerate the process of decommissioning its Airbus A380 superjumbo fleet. However, Emirates President Tim Clark denied reports of mass A380 retirements, stating superjumbos would continue to play a significant role in the airline’s future.

After the first wave of a possible layoff tsunami, particularly affecting A380 pilots, the long-haul carrier might also reconsider the position of the giant double-decker in its fleet in the wake of coronavirus crisis. According to the company’s chief executive, the COVID-19 pandemic will have a huge impact on the group’s performance in the following financial year, and the airline expects it will take 18 months, at least, before travel demand returns to a semblance of normality.

Emirates, one of the airlines that remains at the core of a constantly changing environment and the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis, can take unexpected steps on budget and fleet restructuring like mass A380 retirements or prolonged groundings.

The airline has 115 Airbus A380s and 155 Boeing 777s in its fleet in addition to eight A380 and 126 Boeing 777X aircraft pending delivery. If the company continues to terminate its A380 pilots’ contracts, this might be a strong indication that it will form its fleet only with Boeing 777 and 777X in the post-coronavirus crisis period.

The state-owned aviation group’s ground services company dnata has also laid off some staff and placed many others on unpaid leave. The group is comprised of Emirates in addition to Dubai National Air Transport Association (dnata), a company providing ground services at 78 airports, and employing over 105,730 people around the world.

Bulent Imat
Bulent Imat
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