Etihad Airways is reportedly planning to carry out further downsizing and lay off up to 400 pilots, media reports suggest. 

The Gulf airline was unable to sustain the number of employees it had, the company’s VP of flight operations wrote in a message to staff, as reported by the Arabian Aerospace on July 15, 2020. The layoffs were the direct consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, the message also said. 

Like other carriers in the Middle East and much of the world, Etihad Airways grounded scheduled passenger flights in March 2020, keeping only a small amount of rescue and cargo operations. After the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular began easing travel restrictions, the air carrier began gradual passenger flights resumption only in July 2020. 

Etihad Airways tried to cut staff-related costs by temporarily reducing the employees’ salaries. The measure, officially announced in April, was initially supposed to be in force until July, but was later prolonged until September 2020. 

Nevertheless, jobs remained at stake. By late April 2020, the company already laid off a large number of employees, according to the airline’s chief executive Tony Douglas, who called the redundancies “quite sizable”.  At the time, media reports suggested the layoffs would not be the last. 

As of August 2019, Etihad Airways had 20,520 employees. It is not immediately clear how many people the airline has fired since the beginning of the crisis.