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A senior airline official says too little was being done in the industry to develop talent. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Gulf airlines have ramped up recruitment efforts across all levels as they add more flights and bring their networks to pre-Covid levels.

But there are some new realities facing airlines. Many potential employees, including pilots and cabin crew, left the aviation industry altogether during the pandemic and have taken up IT, public relations and consultancy roles. Some took to early retirements, which too is expected to permanently decrease the supply.

According to an Oliver Wyman report, after past crises such as 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008, new pilot certifications fell 30 to 40 per cent during the five years after the initial shock. The consultancy expects around 25,000-35,000 current and future pilots to choose alternative career paths over the next decade.

To retain or attract new talent, airlines need to offer long-term career growth. Maen Razouqi, CEO of Kuwait Airways, which is currently hiring, said earlier that too little was being done in the industry to develop talent.

“This industry has not been well structured and made attractive for career progressions,” said Razouqi. “Pilots and engineers have a very clear career progression, but remaining 60-70 per cent of the workforce don’t have that much visibility on career advancement”

As far as Gulf airlines are concerned, this has not become a problem yet. Emirates airline is at over 80 per cent of its pre-pandemic workforce, while flydubai has seen a large majority of its staff choosing to continue with the airline after the pandemic scale-down.

“We brought to the table an option to receive whatever settlement is contractually applicable or remain a part of the airline and take an unpaid leave. We were very surprised when 97 per cent of the people actually took the unpaid leave,” said Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai’s CEO, during a virtual event last month.

Qatar Airways was among the first to begin re-hiring pilots and cabin crew in 2021. Saudia, which is aiming to become profitable this year or early 2023, is also on the lookout for the best talent.

The demand is not just for pilots and cabin crew, but also tech experts who could help airlines bring about a digital transformation.

“Passengers and consumers are looking towards investments in the airport experience – they want touchless travel especially after COVID,” said Samer Majali, CEO of Royal Jordanian, during an industry event.

“This is where people are looking for improvement, but we are so sorely lacking.”

Who’s hiring?

Saudia is looking for:

Data governance specialist

The candidate will specialise in managing the information flow for organisations, including the integrity, efficiency, and availability of data. Data governance analyst job includes developing and implementing data standards, guaranteeing metadata is captured correctly and creating methods for monitoring and reporting any data incidents.

Data analytics specialist

These personnel will gather data from various sources and then review and interpret it using data analysis tools to provide meaningful information and insights to help businesses make better-informed decisions.

Data scientist

The person in the role will utilise their analytical, statistical, and programming skills to collect, analyse, and interpret large data sets. They will then use this information to develop data-driven solutions to difficult business challenges. They must have strong experience using a variety of data mining and analysis methods, using a variety of data tools, building, and implementing models, using algorithms and running simulations.

Data engineer

The individual will prepare and transform data using pipelines. This involves extracting data from various data source systems, transforming it into the staging area, and loading it into a data warehouse system. This process is known as ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load).

Qatar Airways

Digital content specialist

The airline is looking for a copy editor to develop high quality digital content for use on and Qatar Airways’ digital channels.

Lead public relations office

The individual will focus on working with media and other stakeholders such as government bodies, the public, charities, and schools. The person will also plan and put into place information and communication strategies that present the airline externally and internally in a positive light.

HR coordinator (for UAE)

The candidate will support the airline’s line managers in ground services, commercial and cargo across UAE in the areas of employee relations, compensation and benefits, leadership development, performance management, and talent management.

Kuwait Airways

Supply chain director

The candidate will establish best practices with regards to sourcing goods and services at competitive prices without compromising on quality and ensure that the facilities, strategy and projects are in line with the company’s long-term objectives.

Pricing and revenue manager

The individual will supervise the activities of assigned personnel in the pricing and revenue management and will perform supervisory duties and exercise financial authority at the level established by the management.