Etihad Asks Pilots to Take Unpaid Leave, Grounds Five Cargo Planes

Etihad Airways, the flagship carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is asking its pilots to take unpaid leave, and it is also grounding five of its Airbus freighters as it continues to rethink its strategy; this is according to what the airline and sources familiar with the airline’s operations told Reuters.

After the billions of dollars spent by the state-owned Gulf carrier to buy stakes in other airlines failed to deliver any significant returns, the airline is now reviewing its business. The airline is reported to have suffered a $1.87 billion loss in 2016, its first loss since 2010.

The airline has reportedly grounded five of its A330 Freighters Airbus planes, and has decided to operate an all-Boeing 777 Freighter fleet, the airline confirmed to Reuters.

The Chief Executive of Etihad’s operations, Peter Baumgartner said in an email sent to Reuters that the Boeing 777 Freighter is the right aircraft for their long term requirements. The airline operates five Boeing 777 Freighters.
A sources has disclosed that the Abu Dhabi based airline is considering to sell or lease the grounded Airbus freighters.

Etihad Airways’ cargo operation decelerated in 2016 when it reported handling only 596,000 tons of cargo that year.

According to three sources, the airline is encouraging its pilots to take unpaid leave for periods as small as a week or as lengthy as 18 months as the carrier reviews its fleet requirements with the intention of retiring some of its planes.

According to the most recent data on the carrier’s website, Etihad Airways employed 2,225 pilots and a fleet of 122 jets as of February 2017. According to one of the sources, pilots are being asked to take leave on a voluntary basis.

Etihad Airways once owned as much as eight minority stakes on other airlines, two of which have been sold and two others have declared insolvency.

Tony Douglas, the new Group Chief Executive who joined just recently, is likely to have to decide what to do with those investments.

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