The global aviation industry is steadily recovering on the back of economies reopening, the easing of pandemic-induced travel restrictions and accelerated vaccination programmes.
As the appetite for travel recovers, demand for new hires in the sector is on the rise, with airlines advertising thousands of jobs for flight attendants, pilots and guest service agents, according to experts in the UAE's recruitment industry.
“The last time the global aviation industry suffered a major setback with a dip in air traffic was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And then we had the pandemic last year that surpassed the former with travel restrictions causing multiple flight cancellations,” Abbas Ali, senior vice president at staffing company TASC Outsourcing, says.
“Fortunately, the aviation industry has been exhibiting signs of improvement throughout this year and looks like it’s in for a U-shaped recovery,” he adds.
The most popular roles to be filled are customer service specialists, air-traffic controllers, flight attendants and tech roles such as Java full stack developers and IT development operations specialists, according to TASC Outsourcing data.
The salaries range from Dh8,000 to Dh15,000 for non-tech roles and anywhere from Dh18,000 to Dh40,000 for tech roles, Mr Ali says.
UAE employers in the aviation industry are currently looking to hire for roles such as cabin crew, quality assurance engineer, flight data specialist, aircraft engineering technology instructor, aviation chief engineer, aviation maintenance officer and aircraft maintenance engineer, according to Ola Haddad, director of human resources at jobs site Bayt.com
The coronavirus pandemic forced airlines around the world to preserve cash and cut costs by grounding aircraft, cutting jobs and slashing salaries.
Right-skilling existing workers and ensuring that new employees from outside the aviation sector can quickly acquire the necessary skills are crucial to the successful rebuilding of the workforce after the pandemic, the International Air Transport Association said in July, citing a global survey of about 800 human resources managers in the industry.
“Key jobs currently in high demand are pilots, assistant pilots and flight attendants,” Ahmad Khamis, chief executive of Bloovo, an AI-powered recruitment solutions provider, says.
Going forward, specialist expertise will be preferred, such as pilots for Boeing 777 aircraft or cabin crew who can serve in a specific type of carrier, Mr Khamis says, adding that such jobs require more technical skills.
Emirates airline recently announced that it is set to hire 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees in the next six months as the Dubai-based carrier seeks to ramp up operations to cater to recovering travel demand.
These roles are Dubai-based positions and front line customer-facing roles, the airline said. Candidates interested in applying to join Emirates can submit their applications at emiratesgroupcareers.com.
“At the moment, there is high demand for operational roles,” according to an Emirates airline spokesperson.
Like many other major airlines around the world, Emirates took steps to reduce costs and conserve cash by reducing staff wages, cutting jobs and offering cabin crew voluntary unpaid leave to cope with the fallout from the pandemic.
But the airline has gradually restored its operations in line with the easing of travel restrictions around the world. In recent months, it has recalled pilots, cabin crew and other operational employees who were stood down when the pandemic forced a drastic reduction in flights last year. It also reinstated the full salaries of its staff from October last year.
Cabin crew serving in Emirate’s economy class cabins earn an average starting monthly salary of Dh9,770 ($2,660), based on 80 to 100 flying hours per month, according to the airline’s website. The airline covers layover expenses, including meal allowances, hotel accommodation and transport to and from the airport.
Captains who can operate Emirates' A380 or Boeing 777 are entitled to a monthly salary of Dh43,013 (basic salary and flying pay included), based on an average 85 flying hours per month. They will either be provided with accommodation with utilities paid for in Dubai or an accommodation allowance of Dh13,664, according to Emirates' website. A generous schooling allowance and health insurance are also provided, besides a Dh700 productivity pay for each extra hour above their monthly target. The captains are also eligible for an annual profit share.
Meanwhile, accelerated command officers with Emirates are entitled to a monthly pay of Dh35,313 based on an average 85 flying hours per month and productivity pay of Dh495. They are also eligible for a monthly accommodation allowance of Dh12,176, a generous education allowance and eligibility for an annual profit share.
First officers with Emirates receive a monthly pay of Dh30,358 based on an average 85 flying hours per month, productivity pay of Dh495, monthly accommodation allowance of Dh12,176, an education allowance and eligibility for an annual profit share.
Etihad Airways is also rehiring as travel demand continues to surge and an increase in tourists is forecast to visit the UAE’s capital due to Expo 2020 and easing Covid-19 restrictions.
“As operations continue to ramp up, Etihad is recruiting for multiple roles at different levels,” a spokesperson says. “From cabin crew to guest service agents to experienced catering professionals, opportunities are currently available to join the national carrier, with even more roles expected to open over the coming months.”
The Abu Dhabi airline is seeking people to fill a range of positions, including digital design leads, UX UI designers, senior analytics specialists, finance master data officers, junior sous chefs, demi chefs, cabin crew and bakers, according to the careers section of the airline’s website.
Aside from aviation specialists and technical jobs, such as pilots, aerospace engineering and air traffic control, the sector’s sustainable recovery depends on building platforms that enhance and optimise the customer experience, starting from searching and booking flights all the way through to security, boarding and luggage reclaims, according to Deepa Sud, chief executive of executive search and leadership coaching consultancy Plum Jobs.
“Roles with emerging technology expertise such as blockchain, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and security are in demand and organisations are having to pay higher salaries to attract and retain candidates with relevant experience, although the experience does not always need to be from the aviation industry,” Ms Sud says.
The salaries for these roles can range from Dh20,000 to Dh45,000 per month, depending on the level of project development and implementation experience, she adds.
Sustainability has also become a greater focus in the aviation industry, from both an operational and infrastructure perspective, according to Ms Sud. Businesses are, therefore, seeking to hire candidates with capabilities in implementing and managing new policies and systems and driving change, she says.
“We are seeing a rise in salaries for senior sustainability roles ranging from Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 per month. Many of these roles require experience with international best practices,” Ms Sud says.
With businesses in the aviation industry continuing to develop new supply chain systems, recruiters are increasingly hiring candidates who have a greater focus on data analytics, predictive analytics, automation and inventory and network optimisation, Ms Sud says.
Companies are willing to pay salaries ranging from Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 per month for senior roles in supply chain management, she adds.
“Any candidate looking for a career in the aviation sector should have strong soft skills such as communication and language skills, along with customer service skills and any required technical skills,” TASC Outsourcing’s Mr Ali says.
The staffing agency regularly posts fresh jobs on various employment portals such as Indeed, LinkedIn and Naukri Gulf, he adds.
The careers section on airlines' websites should be the go-to place for candidates looking for aviation jobs, Bloovo’s Mr Khamis says.
“Aside from the hiring of pilots and cabin crew, the airlines are reliant on a wide network of platforms to attract suitably experienced and qualified candidates – referrals, online job boards and education institutes,” Ms Sud says.
Given the speed at which the aviation sector needs to recover, airlines and related sectors need to pay competitive salaries and benefits to attract, engage and retain high-calibre individuals, she adds.
Most sought-after job roles in UAE aviation
- Assistant pilots
- Flight attendants
- Customer service specialists
- Air-traffic controller
- Tech roles such as Java full stack developers and DevOps specialists
- Catering professionals
- Roles with emerging technology expertise such as blockchain, virtual reality, AI and machine learning
- Senior sustainability professionals
- Supply chain management