Qatar Airways is currently in the process of reducing their workforce, as the airline is starting to send out termination notices to flight attendants and pilots. Well, there’s one story of a Qatar Airways pilot going viral, though it might not be as scandalous as it sounds.
Qatar Airways demands $162K from fired pilot
There’s a letter circulating about a Qatar Airways pilot who was fired. Her services were terminated as of May 7, and she will be paid seven days salary in lieu of the notice period, per contractual terms.
Furthermore, she is told that she’ll need to pay QAR 591,091 to the company, which is the equivalent of 162,343 USD. This is in line with the scholarship program agreement signed in October 2013, as she received her commercial pilot training with the airline, and they want to be reimbursed for that.
Obviously this sounds absolutely terrible. Not only are they firing a pilot, but they’re charging her ~$162K as well?
I’ve seen outrage across the internet, with people saying they’ll never fly Qatar Airways again, and pointing out how disgusting this is, how bad Qatar Airways treats foreigners, and how people wonder if this would have happened to a male.
When I first saw this story I also worried this was as bad as it sounded, but it appears there may be more to the story.
What we know about the fired pilot
The first interesting fact here is that the pilot in question was actually a Qatari national. The Qatar Airways scholarship program is exclusively available to “locals,” and as anyone familiar with the region knows, locals get special treatment.
The fired pilot had shared this story directly on Twitter, even tagging Qatar’s Emir and Prime Minister.
@TameemAlthani @KBKAlthani @qatarairwaysar أنا مواطنة قطرية، موظفة في شركة الخطوط الجوية القطرية، حدث اليوم الخميس الموافق 7/5/2020 إجراء إنهاء خدماتي بدون ذكر أسباب تأديبية أو ماشابه، أرجو من سيادتكم التحقق في الموضوع pic.twitter.com/aOpDRg6kPn
— Jawaher Al-Hail (@AlhailJ) May 7, 2020
The Tweet mentions that the pilot wants an investigation, and that no disciplinary reasons were given for the termination.
So what really happened? There are two sides to every story, and it’s tough to make sense of where exactly the truth lies.
The other side of the story here is that the pilot has spent the past six years completing a two year training course, and still hasn’t passed any of the tests necessary to become a pilot. The airline became fed up, and since they’re firing pilots anyway and trying to cut costs, they also decided to terminate their contract with her at this point.
While Qatar Airways firing a pilot and charging her $162K sounds scandalous, I don’t think we should be attacking the airline without knowing more.
At a minimum, there’s more to this story than meets the eye. The pilot in question was a local, and as anyone familiar with employment in the Middle East knows, there’s a lot of privilege that comes with being a local.
So on the spectrum of Middle East employment scandals, I’m not convinced this one necessarily ranks that high…