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Thu 10 May 2018 10:12 AM

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'People love to work for Emirates' says Sheikh Ahmed

Emirates Group announced all employees will receive a five-week bonus following a 67% increase in annual profit

'People love to work for Emirates' says Sheikh Ahmed
Emirates Group chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum

Emirates Group announced all its employees would receive a five-week bonus this year, after the airline announced its profits more than doubled in its annual results for 2017-18.

The Dubai-based aviation group, which includes airport services firm dnata, announced full year profit of $1.1 billion (AED4.1bn) for the financial year ended 31 March 2018, up 67% from last year. Emirates airline reported a profit of $762m (AED 2.8bn), an increase of 124% on last year’s results.

At the post earnings announcement this week, Emirates Group chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum insisted that people “love to work for Emirates” and said group's well-established bonus scheme encourages greater staff input.

“The bonus is an incentive for staff to continue contributing ideas. The more we save on costs the more profit we make the more we can do this. At certain times we’ve paid anywhere up to 13 weeks. The average since we started the programme has been 4.5 weeks,” he said.

Emirates Group employs over 105,000 staff according to its 2016-17 annual report, roughly a quarter of whom were cabin crew.

Sheikh Ahmed acknowledged “two percent of employees have resigned,” but added that “it is normal” for an organisation of its size.

“I don’t know why everyone is making an issue about staff reductions. People love to work for Emirates,” he said. “A lot of people want to continue forever.”

Greater efficiency

Emirates is looking for “efficiency” said Sheikh Ahmed, adding that cost cutting “is something we should always continue to do even if it’s sometimes easier to do when your pockets are fuller.”

With the airline’s increasing reliance on technology and artificial intelligence, “a lot of tasks can now be automated,” he said.

“But we will never cut staff below regulatory requirements and standards or what works for our business. We don’t hire five employees to do work for 10 or vice versa.”

In January, Emirates confirmed to Arabian Business that it had made some positions redundant and a number of employees were offered lateral moves.

They included junior roles “which can have an impact on the benefits package.”

The airline declined to comment on the number of positions lost, but said “a very small number of staff” had been impacted.

In February, cabin crew speaking with Reuters said talks had taken place with chief operations officer Adel al-Radha about a number of issues including changes in rosters and rest periods on long flights.

Reuters later reported that the airline was facing a cabin crew shortage owing to resignations and an increase in the number of staff calling in sick.

Pilot deficit

In the meantime, Emirates is also looking to fill a deficit of up to 150 pilots, chief commercial officer Thierry Antinori, told Arabian Business at the Arabian Travel Market in April.

“The shortage has made us do what we would not have normally done such as cut back on flights to Florida,” Antinori said, “but the impact is quite limited. It certainly isn’t as dramatic as some are making it out to be,” he said.

News of frequencies being cut to some destinations “are due to commercial decisions,” meant to mitigate the combined impact of historically low demand for air travel during May and Ramadan occurring during the same month, according to Antinori.

“These decisions are independent of the shortage of pilots we are facing,” he said.

What Emirates “needs to communicate” to pilots is that the benefits it offers are incomparable to what they can gain in other parts of the world, said Antinori.

“If you had to choose between being an Emirates pilot versus options in Guangzhou, Mumbai or Addis Ababa then you’d want to be here rather than shuttle back and forth with your family to a place where the children have difficulties settling in. We offer a very competitive package in terms of housing allowance, all-inclusive healthcare benefits as well as other benefits that arise from being a world class city,” he said.

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