The UAE flag carrier Emirates, has asked cabin crew to take four months unpaid leave to reduce further layoffs following the “recent and unexpected travel restrictions” that have been imposed by some countries after the airline restarted flights. Cabin crew at the Dubai-based airline have already had their basic wages slashed by 50 per cent as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures imposed to shore up the airline’s finances in the face of the Corona crisis.
The unpaid leave offer is voluntary and will take place between the start of August to the end of November. Cabin crew will be allowed to remain in company-provided accommodation and will continue to enjoy healthcare benefits.
An internal memo to the cabin crew read “As we continue to plan our network operation we are trying to manage the challenges that arise from the evolving protocols and revised measures which countries are putting in place.”
“We have also recognised the need to react to increases in demand or the need to cancel flights at short notice. Together, this presents us with challenges in adequately predicting our manpower requirements.”
Insiders believe the memo suggests there won’t be any further forced layoff because demand could potentially pick up quickly. For the time being, though, Emirates continues to have a surplus of cabin crew and is looking to temporarily reduce its payroll expenses.
Emirates has already dismissed hundreds of cabin crew, with the latest wave of redundancies taking place just a couple of weeks ago. Sir Tim Clark, Emirates’ president said the airline was reviewing its employee headcount on a weekly basis and was aware that forced redundancies were “destroying people’s lives”.
Sources have, however, raised serious concerns about the selection criteria used for selecting which cabin crew would be made redundant, including an allegation that pregnant cabin crew, as well as crew on unpaid paternity leave, had been laid off.
Emirates has now rebuilt its network to around 60 destinations, although on much-reduced frequencies compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has also restarted Airbus A380 services to London Heathrow and Paris, and Amsterdam will be upgraded to an A380 service from August 1.