Just about every airline in the UAE and Gulf are hiring cabin crew members - even after record intakes in the last year. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: High demand for cabin crews isn’t the only reason why candidates are hoping to land a job with some of the biggest UAE and Gulf airlines. Pay scales and perks are better too when compared with carriers elsewhere in the world.

Emirates airline caused quite the stir recently when announcing it would be hiring an additional 5,000 staff as cabin crew this year for its new aircraft.

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Not only would it be a substantial intake on the 8,000 who have already entered their jobs in the recent past, Emirates said it would be looking for fresh entrants to the industry as their picks. “The airline is inviting fresh graduates with internships or part-time jobs on their resumes, those with a year or so of hospitality or customer service experience,” said an Emirates’ spokesperson.

Another UAE carrier Air Arabia is also placing emphasis on fresh graduates.

“Given that UAE travel demand is expected to go higher than 2023 levels, the demand for aviation professionals will remain high this year as well,” said a cabin crew trainer. (Global traveller numbers are expected to hit 4 billion this year, according to IATA).

Other Gulf carriers too are revving up the hiring action. Because just about each of them will be taking delivery of new aircraft, while in the case of Riyadh Air, it’s about launching full-fledged services. 

Emirates's requirement for cabin crew members numbers 5,000 in 2024, to help with the new aircraft that will join its fleet. Image Credit: Supplied

Why are airlines focusing on fresh graduates?

According to Dr Sathya Menon, CEO of Blue Ocean Corporation - an organisation specialising in cabin crew training and recruitment - qualitative cabin crew replacement is standard practice in the industry. “It is something airlines do routinely. For example, some crew with more flying experience would want ground handling jobs. Also, many crew could be retiring,” said Dr Menon. Moreover, the industry often demands a younger workforce, given the challenging nature of the job.

Dr Menon also said that as airlines expand their operations, the number of fresh graduates and job seekers within aviation is rapidly increasing. “We are growing by 20 per cent month-on-month in new enrolments at Blue Ocean Corporation. And the demand is for cabin crew jobs and technical and other ground staff,” said Dr Menon.

Pay scales could rise as airlines expand

Similar to trends in 2023, cabin crew pay scales have gone up by 5-10 per cent this year compared to previous year trends. "However, there is a possibility of pay scales going up by 20 per cent per cent this year as and when airlines recieve new aircraft," said Dr Menon. Emirates and Qatar Airways are anticipating new aircraft from manufacturers later this year. 

In terms of salaries, full-service carriers are now offering salaries (on average) ranging from Dh9,500 to Dh11,500, and low-cost carriers up to Dh8,500. Earlier, low-cost carriers were offering Dh6,000 and full-service carriers at slightly above Dh8,000.

Last year, Emirates gave its staff a salary increase in line with the rising cost of living and inflation rates globally. Dubai-based employees got a 5 per cent rise on their basic, apart from increased accommodation and transport allowances. Staff also received a 10 per cent increase as education support allowance.

Dubai’s second carrier, flydubai, offers cabin crew a basic of Dh7,500 per month (including housing and transportation allowance). The airline provides a variable flying pay of Dh3,800 per month, based on an average of 80 flying hours.

Etihad Airways’ cabin crew salaries range between Dh8,000 to Dh15,000 per month, and Air Arabia pays flight attendants a little over Dh8,500.

“UAE and other Gulf carriers have been consistent with their hiring activity in the past year,” said Dr. Menon. “Qatar Airways is also open to adding fresh talents to its cabin crew staff. Hiring activity will only continue to grow this year as the industry warms up for 2024 prospects.”

Etihad Airways will be hiring around 1,000 people year-on-year for the next seven years, according to airline CEO Antonoaldo Neves in a recent interview. “We will hire 800-1000 people yearly (because) the plan is to double the fleet size in the next seven years. We believe this will create a lot of value for the company.”

Cabin crew candidates from all over the world
UAE carriers are scouting for new cabin crew members and are willing to offer attractive salary packages to secure talent.

“The appeal of the UAE, particularly Dubai, as an ideal destination for young cabin crew aspirants can be attributed to its multi-cultural environment, tax-free status, and top-notch safety standards,” said a cabin crew training consultant.

Additionally, the rigorous cabin crew training programmes designed by the airlines aim to minimise high attrition rates.

Air Arabia seeks recruits in Beirut

Air Arabia is also seeking cabin crew for their operations in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The airline is organising a recruitment drive in Beirut. “Fresh graduates are encouraged to apply for this role,” said the airline. “Previous experience as cabin crew or in a customer service role in the airlines, aviation or hospitality Industries shall be treated as an added value.”

Gulf carriers not far behind

The Gulf’s other major airline, Qatar Airways, is also organising multiple international road shows - in Vietnam, Ecuador, Philippines, Zimbabwe, Malaysia, Fiji and the Netherlands. The airline employs over 15,000 cabin crew and offers an average salary of QR10,136 (Dh10,199).

Saudi carrier Riyadh Air, set to launch in the second quarter of 2025, is looking for cabin crew and staff across the board. Airline CEO Tony Douglas said, “Our recruitment portal enables individuals to submit their CVs and certifications, whether they are pilots, cabin crew, management professionals, engineers, or any other role.

“In eight months (since launch), we have received 855,000 applications from people aspiring to join the Riyadh Air family, representing 146 nationalities.”

Among the applicants, 52 per cent are women, and 45,000 are aspiring pilots, he said. “While this doesn't guarantee a solution, it does reflect the enthusiasm for a new and contemporary brand associated with Saudi Arabia,” said Douglas.

Budget carrier flynas is also looking for fresh graduates to join as cabin crew, and so is Saudia.