Emirates brings back 100 furloughed pilots per month as planes 70 per cent full

Chief operating officer Adel Al Redha says almost all Boeing 777 pilots are back, while a small number of A380 crew are starting to be rostered again

A pilot of an Emirates Airlines flight from London arrives at Dubai International Airport on May 8, 2020 amid the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP)
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Emirates is bringing back about 70 to 100 furloughed pilots back to work each month, as passenger loads hit 70 per cent, the airline's chief operating officer said.

A summer surge after a long period of coronavirus restrictions has given the carrier a boost after a difficult year for aviation.

In an interview with media, Adel Al Redha said passenger load factor has increased to about 70 per cent in recent months, compared with 44 per cent last year.

“Almost all of our Boeing 777s pilots are back at work,” he said.

"We are currently working on bringing in between 70 to 100 pilots per month
Adel Al Reha, Emirates airline

“Regarding our A380 pilots, we will start building the numbers up as we put more aircraft back in operation.

“We are constrained with the number of training sessions that we can hold in our simulator, but we are currently working on bringing in between 70 to 100 pilots per month to re-train.”

Earlier this year, the airline resumed flights to 120 destinations, which is close to its pre-pandemic operations.

Mr Al Redha said as more countries open up to passengers and governments continue to revise protocols for travel, it will drive much-needed demand.

Currently, Emirates has reported an increase in interest and bookings for destinations including "Russia, Egypt, Turkey and Greece"

as well as the island destinations, such as the Maldives.

“In February or March we predicted a busy summer and a gradual improvement and return of normalisation [for the aviation industry],” he said.

“That is what we are seeing today.

“Thanks to the availability of vaccines here and globally, it has given the industry the breakthrough it needed. It is a motivating sight to see such high demand coming back within the sector.”

As the industry continues on an “upward trend to recovery”, Mr Al Redha said the pandemic has changed the way passengers book holidays.

Due to the ever-changing Covid-19 travel protocols in different countries, last minute bookings have become the norm.

Usually, where flights or holiday packages were booked between "six and nine months in advance of departure", that has changed to between two and three months.

India-UAE flights

Speaking about the extended ban on passenger flights from India to Dubai, Mr Al Redha said it is subject to government review and is constantly being monitored by the UAE leadership.

"They are continuously examining and reviewing developments regarding this," he said.

"We will have to wait and see what is coming from that side related to Covid-19, but it is not just India and Pakistan, but across the globe."

Eid travel surge

The Dubai airline is expecting high passenger volumes to pass through Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport this weekend, as traveller numbers reach among highest levels since the pandemic began.

Mr Al Redha did emphasise that as airports become a little more congested again, prior planning is necessary.

“[With more paperwork required for travel] it takes a bit longer to check in and board," he said.

“Make sure you arrive at the airport at least three hours before, especially during peak seasons.

“Take advantage of self check-in and enrol in the biometric system to make your experience through the airport more seamless.”

In November, Emirates offered some pilots unpaid leave for 12 months as the aviation industry continued to face pandemic-driven headwinds.

The decision was made to protect the airline’s talent pool for post-pandemic business recovery, but also to reduce the impact of its operations and cost base.

In addition, the airline announced that the fall in demand for travel in 2020 led to a cut in more than 33,000 jobs.

The workforce reduced by 31 per cent, to 75,145 employees, from more than 100,000 pre-pandemic.

Updated: July 17, 2021, 4:08 AM