• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Why Emirates retained all staff for 18 months despite flight suspension

Why Emirates mulls operations without visa ban lift

Emirates Airlines for the past 18 months of suspending flights into Nigeria retained all its staff and kept paying salaries, BusinessDay Sunday findings showed.

The airline, which suspended flight operations in November, 2022 because of its inability to repatriate its trapped funds, did not stop paying monthly salaries and rents for all its offices in Nigeria during the period it suspended operations in Nigeria.

Read also: Emirates to announce flight resumption in matter of days, says Keyamo after meeting UAE ambassador

The Emirates, which announced resumption of flight operations in from 1 October 2024, did not also sack any of its staff because it knew its flight suspension was only for a period and did not want to go through the hassle of recruiting new staff when it resumes flight operations into Nigeria.

Kingsley Nwokeoma, president, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, (AFARN), told BusinessDay Sunday that Emirates retained its staff because they knew that they were not leaving Nigeria.

“Emirates even recruited some more staff. That’s an airline that plans. Yes, they suspended flights but they didn’t leave. So, coming back is easier because they already have staff on ground that are already trained. They can’t be retaining staff (again). So, whenever they are ready, they are good to go,” Nwokeoma said.

Susan Akporaiye of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) said that she believes Emirates retained its staff because they know they will still come back.

“They knew it was a temporary situation even though they never expected it to last this long. If they had let go of all their staff, the problem of having to start recruiting afresh was going to be cumbersome. So, I know they don’t want to go through that hassle and most importantly, they have the money.

“It doesn’t make sense for people to keep staff for over a year of nothing happening yet they never sacked anyone. Their rent was still being paid and all staff were being paid. Although, some staff left not because they were sacked but because they didn’t like the fact that they were just idle doing nothing. Some relocated and some left to other airlines,” Akporaiye said.

She explained that the airline could afford paying salaries because money is not their problem.

“This airline is very rich. Other airlines may not be able to survive paying staff salary when they are not doing anything. I am also aware that the Emirates in Nigeria is also the one that handles West Africa as well. So, this may be another reason why they retained staff,” Akporaiye explained.

Speaking on its resumption of flight operations into Nigeria, Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Deputy President and Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are excited to resume our services to Nigeria. The Lagos-Dubai service has traditionally been popular with customers in Nigeria and we hope to reconnect leisure and business travellers to Dubai and onwards to our network of over 140 destinations. We thank the Nigerian government for their partnership and support in re-establishing this route and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard.”

With the resumption of operations to Nigeria, Emirates operates to 19 gateways in Africa with 157 flights per week from Dubai, with further reach to an additional 130 regional points in Africa through its codeshare and interline partnerships with South African Airways, Airlink, Royal Air Maroc, Tunis Air, among others.

As a major economic hub in Africa, Nigeria and the UAE have built strong bilateral trade relations over the years, headlined by Lagos as the nation’s commercial centre.

With the resumption of daily passenger flights, the airline’s cargo arm, Emirates SkyCargo, will further bolster the trade relationship by offering more than 300 tonnes of bellyhold cargo capacity, in and out of Lagos every week. Emirates Group recently announced a 20-week bonus for its employees following an exceptionally strong financial performance for the fiscal year.

Dubai’s Emirates Group announced annual profits of $5.1 billion on May 13, a rise of 71 percent, as the airline company set a new record for the second year in a row.

Citing strong customer demand, it said group profits for the past two years hit $8.1 billion, surpassing the losses seen during pandemic-hit 2020-2022.

“The Emirates Group has once again raised the bar to deliver a new record performance,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.

“The Group’s excellent financial standing today places us in a strong position for future growth and success. It enables us to invest to deliver even better products, services, and more value to our customers and stakeholders,” Sheikh Ahmed said.