Emirates suggests staff take unpaid leave over coronavirus concerns

Mar 5 2020, 2:41 pm

After a recent study that found the coronavirus could cost the airline industry up to $113 billion globally, and with Canada’s two largest air carriers announcing a one-time offer to waive flight change fees amid coronavirus concerns, Emirates Airlines is now suggesting its staff take a one-month, unpaid leave from work.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19, some countries have imposed travel restrictions on entry for operating crew and passengers, which has resulted in Emirates having to amend its operating schedule by either reducing frequencies or cancelling flights to specific destinations,” said Emirates COO Adel Al Redha in a statement provided to Daily Hive.

The “knock on effect” of these operational changes, he said, “has resulted in more resources than required in certain areas of the business for our day to day requirements.”

Al Redha said it has always been the airline’s aim “to protect our workforce and limit the impact to their roles during a global crisis and through tough economic conditions.”

Considering “the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilize their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time.”

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Al Redha said that in light of the “rapid development and the widespread nature” of the coronavirus outbreak, “we have fully activated our Crisis Management Centre since January to closely monitor the situation and take decisive action across all areas of our business.”

These measures, he said “have included providing medical advice to our staff, implementation of practices at the airport to meet specific country travel requirements as well as adjusting our schedule and amending capacity to meet passenger demand across different regions.”

Calling it a “dynamic situation,” Al Redha said Emirates “is continuously liaising with international and local health organizations to ensure we are following the most up-to-date medical guidelines and directives.”

As an additional measure, “we have stepped up aircraft cleaning, and in cases where we are alerted to any suspect or confirmed cases of infectious diseases, we will disinfect all cabins of those aircraft.”

He also urged Emirates passengers to “practice good hand and health hygiene and follow the World Health Organization and health authorities guidelines.”