Ethiopian Airlines has started to lay off its workers, including crew members in response to the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global travel industry. The airline is under pressure to cancel flights to nations that have been greatly impacted by the Coronavirus and management is left with no option than send most of them on mandatory leave
The airline is thought to be terminating the contracts of temporary employees while permanent staff members are being asked to take all their annual leave and up to 90 days of unpaid leave.
“Most of us are being forced to agree to a three-month leave without any payment with little option,” a full-time hostess anonymously revealed.
“If we don’t agree, we have been warned that would be considered as if we have abandoned our jobs at our own will and there will be no employment guarantee once the crisis is over.”
A letter forwarded to the airline’s bore credence to a storm
“The company does not opt for the termination of your employment contract by now and rather we found it plausible to grant you annual leave and leave without pay for specified duration,” the letter read
“Hence, as per our discussion and consensus reached thereof you are hereby granted 90 consecutive days of leave without pay which will be in effect from April 03, 2020 to July 2nd 2020 after you exhaust all accrued and prorated vacation days”, the letter continues.
Ethiopian Airlines, according to reports, says it has laid off only contract employees under an agreement made with their recruitment agencies. All the local flight crew members are hired by the airline directly while custodians and support staff are recruited from agencies as per need requests and did not address the issues with flight attendants.
“As our flights to over 87 destinations suspended and over 80 of our fleets are grounded, we have instructed some of our workers to take a paid leave,” said the airline’s statement.
Did the airline have a contingency plan?
The airline had reportedly promised to offset losses caused by COVID-19 with an increase in cargo flights and aircraft maintenance. This led to a presumption that employees were not at risk of being laid off at such a large scale, but it seems the impact of the virus has caused unforeseen circumstances to prevail.
Although all airlines face a tough time ahead, those with a large share of international routes face additional challenges as most countries have locked down international travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last decade, Ethiopian Airlines has built itself into Africa’s primary airline and made Addis Ababa the key hub for the entire continent, overtaking Dubai in the process.