Layoffs at Emirates


With the economic fall-out of this awful pandemic it was inevitable that Emirates would follow other airlines with a large number of redundancies

Yesterday the government-owned airline took the decision to lay off hundreds of employees in the second phase of job cuts. Those lay-offs will continue through the week.

The airline has not given details of how many people were let go, but a commonly reported number is 600 pilots, who mainly fly Airbus A380s, as well as up to 7,000 cabin crew and some engineers.

The airline has also extended 50% pay cuts until September to preserve cash as the majority of the airline’s A380 and Boeing 777 fleet remains grounded.

Two weeks ago Emirates laid off flight attendants and pilots, who had either recently completed training, or were still being trained.

Inevitably with such large numbers the process is fairly brutal. Emails are sent to staff informing them that they had to attend mandatory meetings.

Reports suggest that the initial redundancies are targeted at those who had previously received warnings, those with high sickness, and those who failed training courses in the past.

Upon conclusion of these meetings, employees received letters outlining the details of their termination.

There is a 30 day notice period for flight attendants, and 90 day notice period for pilots.

There is no right of appeal against the redundancy decision. There is no union to negotiate of act for the crew and the labour laws of the UAE are heavily weighted in favour of the employer.

Staff have a 29 day “grace period” on their residence visa beyond the notice period by when they must leave the country. Where employees cannot leave the country due to current border closures, their visa can be extended and staff would continue to receive housing and 25% of their base salary basically as a living allowance.

For those still employed the real pay cut is more than 50% since it is just the basic salary that has been cut. Cockpit and cabin crew are are also paid for the hours that they fly – except currently they are not flying.

So it is a really tough day for so many people. They moved to Dubai for work and with a dream; they built new lives in the city; and they now need to uproot and leave it all behind. Many I fear will not have a Plan B ready to go.

Of course there are also cuts at Etihad and Qatar – two other large Gulf airlines with basically an expatriate workforce. But due to its sheer scale Emirates is the hardest hit – and the impact on the Dubai economy of the downsizing of Emirates should not be under-estimated.

For our friends who are still there. Stay positive.

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