Gulf gi­ant Eti­had scraps Air­bus orders, cuts pi­lot jobs

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS -

Eti­had Air­ways scrapped orders for Air­bus SE jet­lin­ers and re­vealed plans to cut 50 pi­lot posts as the Gulf car­rier seeks to slim down op­er­a­tions amid mount­ing losses.

Abu Dhabi-based Eti­had can­celed the pur­chase of 10 A320­neo sin­gle-aisle jets, based on the lat­est monthly or­der fig­ures from Air­bus, while a let­ter to staff in­di­cates that the flight-crew jobs, rep­re­sent­ing about 2.4 per­cent of pi­lots, will be elim­i­nated by the end of this month.

Thou­sands of po­si­tions have al­ready gone as Eti­had puts the brakes on a costly ex­pan­sion bid to chal­lenge Gulf ri­vals Emi­rates and Qatar Air­ways.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Tony Dou­glas said in July that more posts would be cut after ap­prox­i­mately $3.5 bil­lion in losses over two years, and that jet­liner orders were in doubt as he fo­cused on lo­cal needs rather than car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers be­tween con­ti­nents.

The car­rier still has one of the big­gest fleet back­logs

In the let­ter seen by Bloomberg, Su­laiman Yaqoobi, vice-pres­i­dent of flight op­er­a­tions, tells staff the global econ­omy is “ex­tremely chal­leng­ing” and that Eti­had must slash op­er­at­ing costs as much as 10 per­cent to re­flect shrink­ing ca­pac­ity. He de­scribes the pi­lot cuts as a “small re­duc­tion” out of a to­tal of 2,065, of which 160 are “sur­plus.”

An Eti­had spokesman de­clined to com­ment on the let­ter while say­ing the com­pany con­tin­ues to im­ple­ment changes aimed at pro­vid­ing “vi­tal ef­fi­cien­cies.”

The car­rier, which is also scrap­ping marginal routes, still has one of the big­gest fleet back­logs in global avi­a­tion, and the A320 can­cel­la­tions don’t ad­dress orders for more than 100 A350s, Boe­ing Co. 777s and 787s which are de­signed for long-haul flights.

Eti­had is mean­while be­ing sued over an Au­gust 2017 de­ci­sion to cut fi­nan­cial sup­port for for­mer Ger­man unit Air Ber­lin, with an in­sol­vency ad­min­is­tra­tor seek­ing 500 mil­lion eu­ros ($575 mil­lion) plus dam­ages. – Bloomberg News

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