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Emirates said to ask pilots, cabin crew to take unpaid leave amid coronavirus pandemic

Dubai’s Emirates airline is requesting pilots and crew to take unpaid leave amid plummeting demand for air travel caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.

Citing an internal email, Reuters is reporting that the airline is offering pilots and crew to take unpaid leave as the airline slashes routes amid the pandemic.

“You are strongly encouraged to make use of this opportunity to volunteer for additional paid and unpaid leave,” the email said.

According to Reuters, a separate e-mail said that there is limited opportunity for unpaid leave for cabin crew who are being encouraged to take paid leave.

Arabian Business has reached out to Emirates for comment.

Emirates – which had more than 21,000 cabin crew and 4,000 pilots on staff as of last year – has reportedly told its staff that the coronavirus pandemic may be the most significant challenge the airline has faced in years.

Like other UAE airlines, Emirates has been forced to suspend or cancel flights to a number of destinations.

Bloomberg reported the airline is looking at grounding the bulk of its 115 Airbus A380 superjumbos, citing people familiar with the situation. 

Many airlines are effectively winding up flying as the pandemic wipes out demand, with discount giant Ryanair Holdings Plc saying Wednesday it expects to ground most if not all flights from next week.

Emirates’ business model is focused on inter-continental routes, and while the spread of the virus is easing in parts of Asia, it’s accelerating in its European and North American markets.

International Air Transport Association chief executive officer Alexandre de Juniac said Tuesday that the virus may have long-term consequences for how carriers regard the biggest aircraft like the A380, which have been among the first jets to be idled in the crisis.

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