Etihad Airways will expand its search for cabin crew to countries in Europe, Asia and Africa over the next eight weeks, after its recruitment drive in Dubai attracted thousands of applicants.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline's recruiters will meet candidates in more than half a dozen countries around the world, including the UK, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, South Africa and Thailand, an Etihad representative told The National on Tuesday.
Etihad Airway's recruitment drive in Dubai on Monday attracted more than 5,000 cabin crew candidates, the representative said. Selected applicants will be invited to attend assessment days on June 14 and June 15.
“We are extremely proud of our cabin crew … and look forward to growing our team as our business rebounds,” the representative said.
Etihad Airways has been in the process of hiring an additional 1,000 employees, from cabin crew to ground staff. At the end of 2021, Etihad's total workforce stood at 12,533 employees.
The airline is expanding its workforce as it ramps up operations in response to a rebound in air travel demand, expectations of a busy summer season and the addition of new Airbus A350 jets to its fleet.
The airlineexpects to deliver a strong performance in the first half of 2022 on higher load factors, strong passenger yields, solid cargo business and lower costs, Tony Douglas, chief executive of the Etihad Aviation Group, told The National in May.
The airline is currently operating three Airbus A350s, after the aircraft's maiden flight on March 31, and plans to introduce two additional A350s into service by the end of the year, Mr Douglas said.
The global aviation industry is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic that dented demand for air travel, forcing airlines to ground aircraft and lay off workers.
Now the industry is facing the challenge of rehiring staff fast enough to meet a rebound in demand as travel restrictions are eased.
Efforts to lure employees to an industry badly affected by the virus for two years has been difficult and complicated.
Job losses and wage cuts have forced aviation workers to look for more stable jobs in other industries, leading to a short supply of qualified and well-trained staff.
The staff shortage is worsened by the long time it takes to train workers and the bottleneck for security clearances as the airline industry prepares for the peak northern summer season.
Training and security clearance for new staff can take more than six months, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
“'We are in a battle for talent. And as we try to rebuild our industry, it is important that we become more attractive, particularly more attractive to women,” Iata director general Willie Walsh said at the Changi Aviation Summit in May.
“This industry has always been seen as a male-dominated industry, we need to change that to ensure that we can not just attract but also to retain the best talent in the industry so that we can build on the progress that we have made and ensure that we have a sustainable financial business and a sustainable environmental business for the future.”
Understaffing at airlines and airports has contributed to long queues and flight disruptions, frustrating travellers and overwhelming airlines.
Staffing shortages could become the industry's Achilles' heel, forcing airlines to cut capacity and hampering their ability to serve the stronger-than-expected rebound in travel demand, according to Moody's Investors Service.
In the first quarter of this year, travel demand has recovered to 48 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Iata said. In some parts of the world, including Europe, North America and Latin America, the recovery has reached about 60 per cent.