The airline had worked with banks to provide loan relief or deferment for staff on unpaid leave.
Budget carrier flydubai has asked all its employees who were sent on unpaid leave to resume work from June, the carrier’s CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said on Tuesday.
While speaking during an interview at the Arabian Travel Market 2021, he said letting the people go due to the pandemic was one of the toughest decisions the company had to take.
“We set up a scheme from the beginning of the pandemic, giving people an option of either going on unpaid leave or taking the redundancy scheme. We are proud that 97 per cent of the people chose to take unpaid leave. I understand that there was no choice for these people but it was a commitment from them that they wanted to stick to the airline and we want to stick with them,” Ghaith said.
“Last week, we’ve written to all of our staff, giving them a schedule to start coming back starting June onwards. That is a huge satisfaction from our side that we can bring back people,” Al Ghaith said during the interview.
The massive vaccination drive in the UAE and some other key markets is giving hopes of improvement in the air travel sector as more and more countries open their borders.
Al Ghaith said the company supported employees as much as it could during the pandemic.
“We had support from all regulatory authorities and partners. People had loans so we worked with the banks to give them some kind of relief or deferment… The feedback we got during this terrible time of how people valued what we had done was very encouraging that it make us so proud,” he added.
The CEO hopes the situation will be better during the summer for the airline and the industry.
He said the airline was flying around 65 per cent of its pre-Covid-19 capacity before the closure of key Indian subcontinent markets.
“We were doing very well and we were achieving last year’s load factor of 73 per cent. We didn’t operate any flight without covering our costs and making money,” he added.
“We are very optimistic that with the summer coming, things will be even better. The big question would be which country is open.”
He said out of the 14 737 MAX aircraft that were grounded, 10 of them have already started flying.
“We were confident that this aircraft is reliable. It is the best single-aisle aircraft around in terms of customer comfort and product enhancement. And I can’t wait to see more of these flying,” he added.
Airlines around the world had grounded Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft after two fatal crashes.
Al Ghaith reiterated that flydubai will continue working with its bigger partner Emirates and he doesn’t see any need for a merger.
“We don’t have to (merge), we can still work together… Right now the objective is to work as two separate airlines. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t grow together. We see there is a huge potential.”