With $26 billion of aircraft on order and a business boom anticipated, Emirates expects to add to the 124 nationalities on its payroll by appointing or promoting more than 6,000 people this year to meet its growing need for cabin crew, pilots, flight operations staff, managers, engineers and airport personnel

Emirates is accepting two intakes of cabin crew a week at present and plans to take three a week from the end of July – typical of the extensive hiring that has been a consistent feature for the last few y ears at the Dubai-based airline. Recruitment manager Rick Helliwell expects the trend to continue as this year’s appointments match the 4,000 made last year and could equal the 5,000 recruited two years ago.

“Around 30% of this will probably be cabin crew,” he says, “with around 10-15% engineering and 10% flight operations or management positions. Besides new hires, a good percentage of appointments across the group will come from within, as we receive 2,000 internal applications a month and we have a strong commitment to internal growth and development.”

Given the airline’s rapid expansion, those joining up can expect rapid progression, especially on the flightdeck. “Our growth needs a good throughput of people,” he says. “Pilots can get fairly quick commands here. Certainly, at present within three to four years there is no reason they cannot move across to the other seat if they are meeting our standards and aircraft type upgrades are available, although in a few years, when our growth slows, it obviously might take a bit longer. And they will get to fly some impressive aircraft.”

Emirates’ growth is symptomatic of the burgeoning aviation industry in its home region. A recent report from the Centre of Asia Pacific Aviation predicted more than 100,000 new recruits would be needed to fuel the Asia Pacific airline industry from 2005 to 2010.

“While this means there is a lot of increased competition for the best people,” says Helliwell. “It also means that the region can accommodate competitors because there is so much demand for air travel. Economic growth here in Dubai, which is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, is really fuelling the industry’s expansion, in a similar way to Singapore many years ago.”

Increasing demand for both passenger travel and cargo transport is one of the reasons behind the construction of a new terminal at Dubai airport. The new facility, as big as the existing terminal, will be the new home of Emirates when it is completed by 2007.

More than 3,000 people in the group are now employed outside Dubai in areas such as the Dnata joint-venture ground handling operation at Singapore’s Changi airport. “The group will almost certainly have other expansion plans overseas in the future,” says Helliwell.

“Dubai is a very cosmopolitan place,” says Helliwell, “and that is mirrored in our organisation. There is a lot of competition to employ UAE nationals and, given our growth rates, we have to be looking not only at hiring more citizens from within the UAE, but also the best externally to meet our needs.”

However, Helliwell says there is a noticeable change in the expat lifestyle. “You used to have the expat model of going somewhere, working for a few years and leaving,” he says. “Now the market and Dubai has evolved so that many people choose to stay living here, building a longer-term career, and even their families may also end up working here.”

Helliwell says the recruitment drive has also driven profitability. “We have increased our net profitability per employee metric year on year,” he says. “The company has nearly doubled in size since I have been here, and each new person on average has incrementally added more profit to the bottom-line than in the previous year. Besides the visionary leadership driving the growth, the quality and commercial savvy of our people is what we believe has differentiated Emirates from many of its traditional competitors.”

For more information concerning online applications, see www.emiratesgroupcareers.com flight.workingweek@rbi.co.uk

Source: Flight International