UAE - The President of Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates airline says that the airline will have shrunk its workforce by between 10 and 20 per cent by the end of it and that it was burning up to $1 million cash an hour at the worst of the Covid-led global restrictions that saw a sudden and exhaustive freeze in air travel across almost all regions of the world.
Clark made these comments in an interview with CNN's Richard Quest for the Quest Means Business programme. Operationally, said Clark, the airline will be back at the pre-Covid levels (end-2019 levels) by the summer of 2022.
"To be honest, we will be between 10% and 20% in the end," said Clark in response to a question about some of the other global carriers having to shrink their workforces by up to 30 per cent. "We are probably not quite the same as many airlines because, don't forget, most of our workforce is expatriate. Once they have left the United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular, it becomes far more difficult to get them back as quickly as we may need them," said Clark, suggesting that the Dubai airline was very wary of letting go staff since their transient nature made it harder to recruit back talent in a hurry.
Redundancies at Emirates, one of the world's largest and most popular airlines, has been a much-discussed issue on social media and elsewhere. Emirates is known for high service standards thanks to its professional crew, with the airline employing 59,519 people of 172 nationalities as of March 31, 2020. That puts a 10 to 20 per cent reduction to mean losing between 6,000 and 12,000 jobs as a result of the pandemic-induced financial distress.
In response to CNN's Richard Quest's query 'what was your worst cash burn?', Clark said: "You have heard the same kind of figures, $1 million an hour, that kind of thing at one point. I think we were not dissimilar to some of the other big, legacy, full-service carriers."
However, Clark went on to tell the CNN's Quest that the airline is "in good shape" considering the circumstances. "But we have arrested that [the worst of the cash-burn]. We've attended to costs in a very big way. Obviously, we don't face the operating cost of these aircraft, but by speaking to the debt providers in some instances and others in the mix of debt provision, we have been able to lay off quite a lot of this. So, we are in good shape at the moment."
© Khaleej Times 2020
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