• Naga Maheeth

Etihad set to deploy Boeing 787 aircraft for cargo operations, employees to take pay cuts

Etihad Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. Photo by Devin Ruhotina | AeroNewsX

Etihad Airways will soon be deploying its Boeing 787-10 aircraft on its cargo network. This news follows after the Abu Dhabi-based carrier has decided to cancel all passenger flights in line with the guidance issued earlier by the Emirati authorities that bans all flights for two weeks to tackle the current COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the world. With many passenger flights suspended, demand for global freight and cargo has since increased greatly. Approximately 75% of Etihad’s cargo capacity is flown by regular passenger flights and the rest is done so by six Boeing 777 freighters which Etihad has in service. Given the current situation, Etihad will be deploying the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners as freighters to support cargo operations as the airline is aiming to meet the increased cargo demand. Each aircraft is expected to carry up to 45 tons of payload, with capacity for 12 lower deck pallets and 4 containers, according to FlightGlobal. The stretched variant of the Dreamliner will be used to operate 34 flights per week, which includes flights to South Korea, India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and other destinations that are open to cargo traffic. Additional flights to Riyadh, London, and Hong Kong will also be introduced to complement and support the current freighter schedule. Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, Managing Director of Cargo and Logistics at Etihad Aviation Group has reiterated that freight and cargo operations will continue amid the current situation that has sent global air traffic figures plummeting as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. “In the current environment these trade lanes must remain open, and with the addition of this capacity we can serve constrained markets that face decreased passenger freight operations, offering a strategic cargo lifeline, and supporting the continuity of the global trade ecosystem.” While the current situation continues to plunder the cash stockpiles of many airlines and send them running for reserves, Etihad was forced to take a tough decision, announcing that employees across all departments will take a pay cut for April, with some employees taking up to a 50% cut. In a statement to the Arabian Business, Etihad’s spokesperson communicated that “To protect our workforce as much as we can, we have taken the very difficult decision to temporarily reduce the basic salaries of all staff, including executives, between 25% and 50% for April, after which it will be reviewed.” “Incredibly difficult decisions” were being taken by the airline to “to safeguard the future of Etihad and that of the Etihad family”, the spokesperson added. Nevertheless, housing and education allowances will continue to be paid during this period. As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to cripple the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association estimates airlines worldwide could potentially lose close to $250 billion with the current travel restrictions in effect for at least three months.

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