Letter to staff exposes pilot layoffs and company-wide salary freeze at the national carrier. We reached out to Qatar Airways this month for comments on the ongoing challenges.
According to a leaked letter to Qatar Airways flight crew in June, the basic pay of two senior pilots will be cut by a quarter while juniors will face decreases of about 15 percent. Remaining staff salaries will be frozen for at least five years, meaning there will be no salary rise during this period. Also, allowances for senior crew could be cut by 40 percent.
Overall, Qatar Airways, which employs about 46,000 staff, has stated that it needs to cut around 20 percent of its workforce to soften the financial blow of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The letter came from Chief Flight Operations Officer Jassim Al-Haroon.
Senior staff to go first
Although many companies have been forced to lay off staff in the global economic slump caused by the pandemic, Qatar Airways’ decision seems unusually targeted.
The new cuts specifically include pilots aged over 60 years old, who will likely retire sooner than their younger colleagues, and those captains who have served the company for more than 10 years, and so command the highest salaries.
Although the airline typically offers its pilots better-than-average employment packages and tax-free salaries, it does not have a staff union. That means it can carry out such redundancies with minimal transparency.
Doha News contacted Qatar Airlines for a comment on the leaked letter. Their response read: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for global aviation in recent months, with the resulting negative impact on market conditions affecting airlines all over the world.
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“This situation has compelled Qatar Airways to implement a number of significant measures in order to continue operating in recent months, one of which was the confirmation that redundancies across the business will be sadly unavoidable. The difficult decision to reduce our staff numbers has not been taken lightly, and the airline has focused on managing this process in a manner that is as fair and impartial as possible.
“We now remain focused on ensuring that our colleagues departing the business over the coming weeks are treated professionally, with the utmost respect and compassion at this difficult time. We also look forward to the possibility of welcoming back many of these employees when we are once again in a position to restart significant recruitment.”