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Staff bonus gives Emirates lift-off in recruitment stakes

Emirates staff bonus Emirates
With the strong rebound in travel, Emirates has embarked on a big recruitment drive
  • Employees get 24-week bonus following airline’s record profits
  • Carrier on recruitment drive after 33,000 job cuts during pandemic
  • Competition for staff increasing with launch of new Saudi airlines

The sizeable bonus awarded by Emirates to its staff will give the Dubai airline a significant tailwind as competition for talent takes off across the region.

According to an email from the company’s chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, employees have been given a 24-week bonus this month.

It comes after the airline reported the most profitable 12 months in its 38-year history, recording a profit of AED10.6 billion ($2.9 billion) for the last financial year.

Linus Benjamin Bauer, founder of Bauer Aviation Advisory said that offering substantial bonuses could give Emirates “a significant advantage in the talent war, particularly in the highly competitive aviation industry”.

“Employees who are currently working at Emirates and receive this bonus are more likely to stay with the company,” Bauer said. “High employee retention can save the company significant costs associated with hiring and training new staff.”

Emirates cut more than 33,000 jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, reducing its total payroll by 31 percent to 75,145 employees.

With the strong rebound in travel, the company has embarked on a massive recruitment drive.

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer, Emirates airline, told AGBI at the recent Arabian Travel Market that they had hired 6,000 additional staff members since 2020 and they continued to see a “healthy number” of new recruits.

In February the company announced plans to invest $135 million in a new airline pilots training facility in Dubai.

In its latest commercial market outlook report, a forecast of 20-year demand, US plane manufacturer Boeing said the Middle East will require 202,000 new aviation personnel, including 53,000 pilots, 50,000 technicians and 99,000 cabin crew members in the next 20 years.

Competition for personel will have increased with the launch of new airlines in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh Air, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, and Neom Airlines, serving the $500 billion Neom giga-project in the kingdom.

The launches form part of ambitious plans by Saudi Arabia to boost the number of passengers through its 29 airports from 100 million to 330 million by the end of the decade under its Vision 2030 programme.

Antony Marke, chief operating officer at Dulsco People, a Dubai-based aviation recruitment company, said Saudi Arabia’s plans has created “unprecedented numbers of new jobs” in the kingdom.

“There’s a huge uptick in demand for recruitment, placement and contract staffing services – especially in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors,” he said.

“We are witnessing new trends in job types, with new opportunities for better placements among drivers, cargo agents and supervisory categories.”

The competitive market and high salaries on offer in Saudi Arabia has also meant that retention has become a challenge in the sector, Marke said.

Elsewhere, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said they it had been involved in “a huge recruitment drive”. He said 50 percent of the temporary staff recruited for last year’s Fifa World Cup – reported to be around 10,000 workers – had been kept on to “fuel the growth of the airline and Hamad International Airport”.

Con Korfiatis, CEO of Saudi budget airline Flyadeal, said he expected its staff numbers to grow as much as 50 percent this year. “We’ve already hired around 20 percent larger than this time last year,” he said.

“But I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t going to be a challenge."