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Etihad Reportedly Asks Flight Crews to Request Voluntary Furloughs

The Gulf carrier is said to have asked some pilots to take unpaid time off as the Abu Dhabi-based airline reassesses the future of its cargo operations.

Etihad Airways has a reputation for opulence, but the Gulf carrier is increasingly showing signs that it is struggling to maintain the bottom line. Demand for premium long-haul travel has waned in recent years as lean economic conditions in the region have started to take their toll.

Still, carriers like Etihad, Emirates and Qatar have largely resisted the temptation to reduce the expensive amenities that they have become known for. It seems, however, that Etihad’s freight operations will not be enjoying similar protections from decisive cost-cutting measures (after all, it isn’t as if cargo customers are especially concerned that packages fly in the lap of luxury).

According to Arabian BusinessEtihad has grounded its fleet of five Airbus A330 cargo planes. The airline will continue to operate five Boeing 777 cargo planes. The UAE airline has reportedly asked displaced flight crews to take unpaid leaves of between one week and 18 months while it assesses a new strategy for its struggling freight operations.

The company confirmed that the Airbus planes would be sold or leased in favor of operating an all-Boeing cargo fleet, but company officials dismissed the notion that the move was in response to financial struggles. The airline declined to confirm that displaced pilots were encouraged to take unpaid time off.

“This freighter is the right aircraft for our long-term requirements,” Etihad spokesperson Peter Baumgartner told Reuters about the fleet reduction in a brief statement.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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anirudh666 January 26, 2018

Etihad is cost cutting for sure, as evidenced by meals in both economy and business. For an economy class passenger, I’m not sure what other “amenities” can be cut.