Report: Emirates offers unpaid leave to pilots, cabin crew

The Dubai-based airline continues to rebuild its flight network amid the coronavirus pandemic but has experienced financial setbacks.

al-monitor The crew of an Emirates Airlines flight from London arrives at Dubai International Airport on May 8, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 23, 2020

The Dubai-based airline Emirates is offering some pilots and cabin crews the option to take four months or less of unpaid leave. It is the latest measure the major international carrier is taking to stay afloat financially as it rebuilds its flight network amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certain Emirates pilots and flight attendants can take the unpaid leave between August and November. They would still receive benefits such as housing during this time, Reuters reported today. The outlet cited an internal email at the airline. Emirates spokespeople declined Al-Monitor’s request for comment.

Emirates, which is owned by the Dubai government, suspended most passenger flights in March during the coronavirus pandemic. In May, the airline resumed many international flights and has continually added destinations on multiple continents since then. Dubai is a major international flight transfer hub.

Like other Emirati and Gulf airlines, Emirates has struggled financially with the decrease in global travel resulting from the virus. In June, Emirates laid off hundreds of pilots and cabin crew. An Emirates spokesperson told Al-Monitor at the time that the job cuts were due to the effects the pandemic had on their business.

Emirates continues to resume services to multiple countries, despite the financial setbacks. The airline will be offering flights to 63 destinations by August. Dubai is also now allowing tourists again.

The United Arab Emirates is making a push for tourists to visit the Gulf country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ communications director said tourists are already coming in a tweet today.

“With one of the world's highest testing rates, a low caseload & stringent health protocols, the UAE is one of the safest countries to visit,” tweeted Hend Al Otaiba. “UAE airlines are at the forefront of innovation on travel in the age of Covid-19.”

Many airports in the Middle East have reopened recently or will soon reopen for regularly scheduled passenger flights, including airports in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

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