Emirates in top management cull

Emirates Airline has axed a number of its senior management in a bid to halt the slipping service standards on many of its flights, Arabian Business can reveal.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  September 25, 2005

Emirates Airline has axed a number of its senior management in a bid to halt the slipping service standards on many of its flights, Arabian Business can reveal. Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president, service delivery, sacked the staff last week after having previously called a meeting to highlight the decline in service standards on the Dubai-based carrier’s flights. Senior Emirates executives are now braced for a wave of challenges to the dismissals. “I can confirm the meeting took place,” said Mike Simon, senior vice president of corporate communications at Emirates. “There were not widespread dismissals — there were eight [sackings] and more information will be released pending the result of the staff’s appeal.” Earlier this year Emirates, which operates flights to 77 cities in 54 countries, issued a warning to its 5600 cabin crew staff about service standards. A letter to senior airline stewards from Daly urged them to improve their quality of service, galley behaviour, attitude, grooming, cabin monitoring and to reduce noise levels. “I am very sad to say that we have been receiving more and more reports about our standards slipping,” said Daly in the internal memo. “I stood watching one of our peak departure periods recently and I was appalled at some of the things I saw.” Since its launch in 1985, Emirates has received more than 250 international awards in recognition of its efforts to provide high levels of customer service, including Airline of the Year and Best Customer Service. Although the carrier insists on consistently high service standards it has previously acknowledged that many of its 25,000 staff fail to meet them. “Given the scale, it is inevitable that there will be some differences in cultural outlook and in attitude. Many of our cabin crew are working in their first overseas employment ever and we appreciate that some may have difficulties in adjusting to a new and working environment,” said an Emirates Airline spokesperson. “Emirates prides itself on taking customer feedback seriously. The letters to our in-flight staff were written in order to refocus and re-engage our crew on key areas which our customers say are important,” the carrier's spokesperson added. Sources within Emirates told Arabian Business that Daly, who previously worked for British Airways (BA) in the region is keen to replace the dismissed staff with some of his former colleagues at the UK flag carrier. Daly was previously BA’s general manager for its passenger and cargo business and later became the airline’s area manager for the Middle East — a position based in Dubai. Emirates has experienced rapid and consistent growth, above 20% a year on average and has been profitable for the last 17 years. Financially self-sustained and unprotected, Emirates has carried 10.4 million passengers over the last year alone — almost two million more than the year before. The carrier’s revenues totalled US$4.9 billion for the last financial year, US$1.3 billion (36%) above income of US$3.6 billion in 2003-04. Airline profits of US$637 million were US$208 million or 49% higher than profits of US$429 million for the previous year. Emirates has more than doubled its fleet in the past four years and now possesses 80 all wide-bodied aircraft, having seen the arrival of a new Boeing 777-300ER earlier this month. Its fleet currently includes six Boeing 747 freighters and is among the youngest in the skies, with an average age of 46 months. The airline plans to more than double its size by 2012 and the Dubai-based carrier has 45 double-decker Airbus A380s on order, which it will start receiving in 2006. It is the largest customer of the yet-to-operate super-jumbo. All eyes will be on Emirates in the coming weeks and months as it is one of the launch carriers of the eagerly anticipated A380 super-jumbo aircraft. As such, Daly’s initiative is seen as a move to match his former employer, BA’s reputation as the world leader for providing high-quality in-flight service.

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