UAE's Etihad Airways cancels Airbus order, plans to cut pilot jobs

Abu Dhabi-based carrier has cancelled the purchase of 10 A320neo jets, based on the latest monthly order figures from Airbus
UAE's Etihad Airways cancels Airbus order, plans to cut pilot jobs
Thousands of positions have already gone as Etihad puts the brakes on a costly expansion bid to challenge Gulf rivals.
By Bloomberg
Fri 11 Jan 2019 11:01 AM

Etihad Airways has scrapped orders for Airbus jetliners and revealed plans to cut 50 pilot posts as the UAE-based carrier seeks to slim down operations amid mounting losses.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad canceled the purchase of 10 A320neo single-aisle jets, based on the latest monthly order figures from Airbus, while a letter to staff indicates that the flight-crew jobs, representing about 2.4 percent of pilots, will be eliminated by the end of this month.

Thousands of positions have already gone as Etihad puts the brakes on a costly expansion bid to challenge Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.

CEO Tony Douglas said in July that more posts would be cut after almost $3.5 billion in losses over two years, and that jetliner orders were in doubt as he focused on local needs rather than carrying passengers between continents.

In the letter seen by Bloomberg, Sulaiman Yaqoobi, vice present for flight operations, tells staff the global economy is “extremely challenging” and that Etihad must slash operating costs as much as 10 percent to reflect shrinking capacity.

He describes the pilot cuts as a “small reduction” out of a total of 2,065, of which 160 are “surplus.”

An Etihad spokesperson said: "Etihad continues to implement important changes to the business as part of its transformation process. This will provide vital efficiencies and ensure the business is best placed to move forward in the future.

"As with all parts of the company, the Flight Operations department is being reviewed at a high level. However, any reduction in the work force is likely to be small given the importance of the department to the airline’s operations."

The carrier, which is also scrapping marginal routes, still has one of the biggest fleet backlogs in global aviation, and the A320 cancellations don’t address orders for more than 100 A350s, Boeing 777s and 787s designed for long-haul flights.

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