Emirates Is Reducing Cabin Crew Staffing… Again

Filed Under: Emirates

Emirates has been making some unpopular decisions lately. One of their biggest problems right now relates to their pilot shortage (which they now deny is happening), as pilots have apparently been leaving the airline in droves. To deal with this, the airline has parked some planes, and they’ve also reduced the number of pilots they have on some longhaul flights, which is concerning.

Those aren’t the only staffing changes they’re making, though. In mid-April, Emirates also decreased the number of crewmembers on some flights:

  • On longhaul flights, they reduced the number of first class flight attendants on the A380 from four to three
  • They removed one economy cabin crew from two cabin A380s
  • They removed a supervisor from two cabin 777-300ERs

Emirates’ A380 first class now has three flight attendants, rather than four, on longhauls

Now the airline has announced further staffing cuts, which are expected to kick in soon:

  • On longhaul flights, Emirates is reducing the number of first class flight attendants on the 777-300ER from three to two
  • Emirates is removing one economy cabin crew from all 777-300ER aircraft (both two cabin and three cabin planes)

Emirates’ 777 first class will have one fewer flight attendant on longhauls

Emirates’ SVP of Service Delivery says that these changes “will ensure more consistency of the cabin crew operation,” and the airline will also be issuing an update on the service delivery routine as a result of these changes, to ensure a continued high level of service.

Individually none of these cuts are a huge deal. Emirates staffs their flights with more cabin crew than most international airlines, but that’s also partly why they’re able to offer such good service. So while these changes might not be that crazy, it is interesting that Emirates is headed in a clear direction of cost cutting, at least as it relates to staffing costs.

Morale at the airline seems to be as low as it has been in a long time (among both pilots and cabin crew), and these continued cuts only make things worse. So my biggest concern with these changes is what it means for morale, rather than the impacts of any particular cut.

As far as my firsthand experience goes, I flew from Los Angeles to Dubai in A380 first class last week on a flight featuring the reduced staffing, and it was still excellent.

  1. 450 flights a day, 8hr average flight (dxb to lhr is 8hrs so i assumed that), $25 hr (complete guess) thats over $60 million in annual reductions if they removed 2 workers at 25/hr.

  2. Interestingly enough I had four long haul flights with Qatar in the last month, and on every one I got talking to various cabin crew members, at least half of which had recently moved to Qatar from Emirates, saying how unhappy they had been in Dubai and that being with Qatar was like ‘the good old days with Emirates”, and that they had much more personal time with Qatar.

  3. Why is it necessary to do this when they are rapidly expanding their network routes? It doesn’t make any sense.

  4. Honestly, reducing the crew from three to two in first class on the 777s isn’t that big of a deal, I don’t think.

    Back in the old days, when LH had first class upstairs on the 744s, there were four rows of seats, two in front of the emergency exit and two behind, with a 2×2 seating layout. They staffed first class with three attendants: One for the front two rows, one for the back two rows (meaning a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:8), with a third person in the galley. I never ever had a service problem with that in the zillion times I flew it. Well, I had one service problem, but that was because of a horrible flight attendant, but that was a one off.

    Anyhoo, if Emirates only has two flight attendants (one for service, one for the galley), I’m still okay with a 1:8 crew to passenger ratio assuming they can keep up the service levels.

  5. @Alan Costello: Keep in mind Qatar is being blockaded by the other countries, so dunno how long their happy times* will last

  6. The 3 middle east carriers have been cutting cost hard lately. Been aggressive in getting loyal customers into their programs in the past 5 years and now their own loyalty fails big time…, disappointing.

  7. @Lucky (or @Tiffany) — A typo: ” it is interesting that Emirates ie headed” > should be “is headed.”

  8. I disagree Emirates offers good service from it’s cabin crew – that is the worst part of their product! Quantity does not mean quality…

  9. So they will have 3 cabin attendants for 14 seats in first class on the A380? That is the same number as JAL has for 8 seats om a 77W.

  10. They treat pilots and flight attendants pretty bad. There’s no surprise that staff are leaving.
    China is more friendly and generous to foreign crews so moving to China is really common now.
    Besides, QR has the worst labor conditions in ME3.

  11. They are not even providing amenity bags, PJs etc on some flights in F. the other day I flew CDG/DXB/NBO and there was nothing. I appreciate its a small thing but noticeable.

  12. Don’t safety regulations dictate a minimum number of FA’s based on number of passengers on-board (I assume total, not by travel class). How close are they to the minimums?

  13. Emirates’ services have dramatically declined, particularly on the ground, lounge food, de-planing in Dubai, flight delays and cancellations- simply not pleasant to travel with anymore

  14. @Jim
    The minimum staffing is generally one FA per 50 seats. So Emirates are not even remotely close to that level.

  15. Personally, I feel that the Qatar cabin crew are far more friendly and ‘human’ compared to the ones in Emirates. The crew in Emirates even in the first or Business Class are unable to be genuinely friendly, I am not sure why, but as you say, it could be, that they are comparatively not so happy working with Emirates, or the living conditions in Dubai. However, it may not be fair to pass such a sweeping comment.

  16. Wow, BA has more cabin crew in First on a 777 than Emirates now? I think 2 crew for an 8 seat cabin is a recipe for slow service. Particularly around meal times when you’ve got 1 crew member permanently in the galley and 8 hungry people who are potentially waiting to be served copious amounts of food and drink at the same time.

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