Cabin crew
Compared to 2019 levels, cabin crew salaries have increased by over 30 per cent. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The region’s aviation industry, especially UAE carriers, are now enticing workers with a 5-10 per cent salary increase compared to last year, airline training and recruitment experts have said.

While the increase is not significant, premium carriers have raised their pay scales by 5 to 10 per cent to accommodate the rise in the cost of living, said Dr Sathya Menon, the CEO of Blue Ocean Corporation, an organisation specialising in cabin crew training and recruitment.

However, compared to 2019 levels, cabin crew salaries have increased by over 30 per cent. “For instance, if cabin crew positions offered Dh8,000 in 2019, full-service carriers now offer salaries ranging from Dh9,000 to Dh10,500. In 2019, low-cost carriers were offering Dh6,000, but today they are offering Dh8,000,” he said.

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And salaries are seeing a spike across the board. Salaries for individuals working as aviation managers in the UAE are on the rise in 2023 based on recently submitted salaries and reports, said Ali Kassir, Airline Systems IT Specialist at AviaPro Consulting (specialists in airport, civil aviation authority and airline consulting). According to a survey by, the 2019 monthly salaries for aviation managers was Dh37,600. Today they are being paid Dh40,100. “The trend suggests a slow yet continuous increase in pay in 2024 and future years,” said Kassir.

The same goes for pilots’ salaries. According to current estimates, Emirates pilots earn between Dh15,000 to Dh43,000, and flydubai pilots make anything between Dh22,000 to Dh41,500. In 2019, the average pay scale for pilots in 2019 was Dh22,900.

And in the future, the salaries could go up. “The Pilot Survey, 2023, from Goose Recruitment (specialist in aviation recruitment), said 56 per cent of pilots in the Middle East believe that salaries will increase over the next two years. About 31 per cent have said it would stay the same, and only 13 per cent believe it would decrease,” Kassir added.

Demand for pilots to only go up

Managing Director at AFM and Aviationfly, Maximilian Buerger, said: “We are seeing demand across both single-aisle and wide-body jets as airlines in the region are continuing to add more aircraft to their fleet.” In their 2022 Boeing Commercial Market Outlook, Boeing estimated that airlines in the region will have demand for nearly 3,000 commercial jets valued at $765 billion over the next 20 years.

“The Middle East region demand for wide-body aircraft is forecast to account for 43 per cent of total aircraft order, the highest proportion of any region globally, but we are also seeing low-cost carriers growing their single-aisle fleet significantly over the coming years,” he explained.

Hiring spree is not enough

Almost all regional and global airlines are still pushing massive recruitment drives to meet their staffing requirements. “There is increased demand for pilots and flight crew, technical and engineering roles, supply chain and logistics, sales and marketing, training and development specialists,” said Kassir.

“Moreover, Emirates is investing $135 million in an extension to its flight training centre in Dubai, and United Airlines is halfway to completing a $100 million pilot training centre to train 10,000 new pilots by the end of 2030,” said OAG’s Chief Analyst John Grant.

But UAE and other regional carriers have understood that simply going on a hiring spree is insufficient to secure skilled professionals in the aviation industry. “Employers in the aviation industry struggle to find and keep talented employees. The aviation sector is quite competitive, and businesses frequently struggle to draw in top personnel because of this,” said Kassir.

In the long run, businesses that have demonstrated that they value their employees will become employers of choice, said Kassir. “They are more likely to draw competent personnel to support ongoing success when the economy improves, airline travel picks up, and hiring is given increased attention,” he added.

Job perks sweeten the deal

According to Dr Menon, UAE carriers, who are already offering some of the best pay and cost-of-living packages to their staff, are also going the extra mile by providing a range of perks and benefits that enhance the overall employee experience.

And alongside slightly higher pay, airlines and aviation companies offer additional perks. Notably, they are covering school fees for employees’ children (for senior cabin crew) and providing personal grooming allowances, relieving financial pressure for those in the industry.

Perks can also include medical and health insurance coverage, generous annual leave allowances, retirement savings plans, travel benefits for employees and their families, and professional development opportunities. Dr Menon stated that experienced cabin crew members are particularly interested in joining full-service airlines to maximise these benefits.