Dubai: As UAE and regional airlines go on a hiring overdrive as they expand services, aviation training colleges are seeing a spike in demand, and offering attractive pay packages.
In some cases, registrations for IATA-certified cabin crew learning programmes have shot up by at least 40 per cent since Q4 last year as airlines ramp up their hiring activity to unprecedented levels.
Dr Sathya Menon, CEO of Blue Ocean Corporation, an organisation that trains cabin crew aspirants, said: “We have grown considerably since Q1 last year. Our enrollment numbers for the IATA-certified cabin crew training programme (offered at Blue Ocean Academy) during Q4 2022 was 200, and have gone up by nearly 40 per cent during Q4 this year (275 new students).
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‘The great aviation hiring spree’
Almost all regional airlines are still pushing massive recruitment drives to meet cabin crew staffing requirements. “Be it national, legacy, low cost, or small airlines, almost all of them are on a hiring spree,” said Mark Kammer, Operations Director at Dynamic Advanced Training at the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub.
UAE carriers are organising massive recruitment drives (locally and internationally) as they gear up for new airline deliveries and the unprecedented travel demand. And while getting a training accreditation from independent organisations gives recruits a better chance at landing a job at major airlines, all cabin crew must undergo airline-specific, intensive training programmes.
Emirates is organising multiple recruitment roadshows in over 50 countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, North America, the UK, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, and the UAE, in preparation for the upcoming travel season and as the airline prepares to take delivery of its Airbus A350s in mid-2024.
The airline currently employs 18,000 cabin crew, and all of them have undergone a seven-week specialised training at the Emirates Aviation College in Dubai.
Emirates’ sister carrier, flydubai, is also looking for cabin crew as it grows its network. Airline CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith told Gulf News: “Last year, we grew our workforce by 39 per cent (1,300 new employees), and we are continuing to grow.”
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is also running global recruitment drives in search of cabin crew roles ahead of its planned return of its Airbus A380s this summer, said Dr Nadia Bastaki, Chief Human Resources, Organisational Development and Asset Management Officer, Etihad Airways.
Low-cost airline Wizz Air Abu Dhabi plans to hire up to 400 pilots and cabin crew this year as the UAE airline readies to take on more routes and a more significant share of demand for budget flying.
Despite hiring 10,000 staff for the FIFA World Cup last year, Qatar Airways is organising recruitment drives in Uruguay, Jordan, Uganda, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and several other countries.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Gulf News: “We did recruit many temporary staff during the games, but we permanently recruited 50 per cent of those temporary staff into our workforce to fuel the growth of our airline.”
Addressing a natural attrition rate
This recruitment drive isn’t just to meet the surge in travel demand and get metal into the sky; the natural attrition rate also needs to be addressed. “Independent aviation analysts have noted that the Middle East is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world, with the regional fleet predicted to expand by 5.1 per cent annually over the next decade,” said Kammer.
“In 10 years from now, there will be a requirement for 50 per cent more aviation staff than currently employed,” he added.
What salaries can cabin crew expect?
Cabin crew salary comprises three components – basic, flying pay, and average total pay. The average basic salary in the UAE could be between Dh4,000 to Dh8,000 per month; flying pays between Dh60 – Dh80 per hour, and the average total pay is between Dh10,000 – Dh15,000 per month.
Here is a breakdown of the average salaries cabin crew can expect while working at Middle Eastern airlines.
Air Arabia: Dh10,000
Qatar Airways: Dh10,000
Etihad Airways: Dh11,000
“Unlike before, our intake this year also includes Emirati students and a few pupils from Saudi Arabia,” said Dr Menon. However, most of the students at Blue Ocean Academy, the training division of the recruitment and educational consultancy, are overseas recruits from South Asian, Eastern European, and some African countries.
“We have students from Eastern European students, other Arab nations and African countries who aspire to join GCC carriers as well as international airlines such as British Airways or Lufthansa,” he added. The recruits, usually in the age group of 22-23 years old, enrol into independent cabin crew training organisations in the hope they would stand a better chance at being recruited by regional and other GCC carriers. “It is a good opportunity to learn the basics and then undergo specialised training at the airline they finally choose to join,” added Dr Menon.
Overseas aspirants are drawn to the UAE as the national carriers of the country (Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai) and other regional airlines, such as Qatar Airways, offer a wide range of benefits to cabin crew, apart from being competitively paid, said Dr Menon.
Etihad provides cabin crew with fully furnished accommodation in Abu Dhabi, competitive salaries, medical insurance, and travel benefits for friends and family.
“Several cabin crews enjoy concession travel. Staff travel benefits on other airlines can be availed as per inter-airline agreements/policies. Some airlines furnished accommodation along with utility charges are also covered,” he added.