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Etihad to raise workforce by 5% year on year

Etihad currently has more than 7,000 employees. (EB FILE)

By Karen Remo-Listana

Etihad Airways, the flag-carrier airline of Abu Dhabi, does not have any redundancy issue and will in fact continue to grow its workforce by five per cent every year, a senior official from the company said yesterday.

"We are not firing anybody and we also didn't freeze our recruitment. We are taking care of our people and we are trying to utilise them more," Dr Salwa Al Nuaimi, Vice-President, Talent Acquisition, Human Resources at Etihad told Emirates Business.

"Etihad currently has more than 7,000 employees and we want to increase that by approximately five per cent more every year," she said on the sidelines of the 11th Global Businesswomen and Leaders Summit.

"Etihad is blessed. It's a new company and it's growing fast. We think what is happening now wouldn't affect Etihad that much, especially because we are being taken care of by the Abu Dhabi Government."

Al Nuaimi, however, acknowledged that the global crisis may still cause bigger problems to the airlines industry, which is already reeling from a slowdown in passenger traffic.

"I think we should still look at the businesses globally and on other things that are happening around us. This will, of course, affect our target," she said.

Al Nuaimi said Emiratis currently comprise around three per cent of the workforce but the company is on track to increasing the headcount by providing training in technical, engineering, cadet pilot and managerial programmes.

The company has also launched a call centre programme, which will act as an initial springboard for the UAE nationals to the airline's other core businesses.

Etihad will also encourage Emiratis to take cabin crew positions. "Hopefully in the next two to three years we can see local cabin crew on Etihad," she said. "You see, the UAE is changing all the time. Nobody thought that we would have two female pilots." Etihad cadet pilots, Salma Mohammed Al Baloushi from Al Ain and Aisha Hassan Salim Al Mansoori from Khorfakkan, began their initial flight training at the Horizon International Flight Academy in September 2007 and are on course to graduate in April 2009.

They, alongwith 10 colleagues, make up one of four classes of Emirati cadet pilots currently training in Al Ain.