A major international airline, Emirates, on Tuesday, asked staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus that has led to flight cancellations around the world.
Emirates has so far cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China because of the virus, and countries around the world have placed strict restrictions on the entry of foreigners.
According to its Chief Operating Officer, Adel al-Redha, the airline has more resources than it needs as a result of cutting frequencies or cancelling flights to some destinations.
“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees with the option to apply for voluntary unpaid leave up to one month at a time,’’ he said.
Emirates Group, the state-owned holding company that counts the airline among its assets, has asked staff to consider taking paid and unpaid leave as it seeks to manage a measurable slowdown in its business.
The group had more than 100,000 employees, including more than 21,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots, at the end of March 2019, the end of its last financial year.
Major concerts and events in the UAE, an air transit centre, including tourism and business hub Dubai, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.
Earlier, the airline industry’s largest global body IATA urged Middle Eastern Governments to provide support to airlines as they try to manage the impact of the outbreak.