Etihad Airways plans to put Emiratis in charge overseas

The UAE's flag carrier airline believes it should have nationals in charge of operations at its destination airports.

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Just as British Airways tends to have Britons in charge of its overseas activities, and Qantas will have Australians, the UAE's national airline believes it should have Emiratis in charge of operations at its destination airports. "It's our dream to have Emiratis running our out-stations," says Ray Gammell, the chief people and performance officer of Etihad. The airline has a management trainee programme reserved for UAE nationals.

"These are our pioneers," he said. "They are graduates who land in Australia and the United States and immediately adopt management positions." Currently, Emiratis constitute 11 per cent of the airline's total staff. Etihad also has more than 100 Emirati pilot cadets. The programme for UAE nationals has already seen two women graduate, to much fanfare. It is one of few such programmes globally, since most pilots are required to fund their own training.

"So few airlines now run a cadet programme," Mr Gammell said. "This is young UAE talent feeding into the national airline, and it's incredible to see that." Dr Riana Smith, Etihad's vice president for learning and development, said the airline had "very robust recruitment" practices when it took on Emiratis. "It's a business imperative. It's more than social responsibility."