Etihad Airways responds to labour practices criticism

ABU DHABI // Etihad Airways is inviting critics to visit its facilities and meet employees after the largest flight attendants union in North America accused it of mistreating female workers.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants wrote an open letter to actress and UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, who is the public face of the airline’s latest advertising campaign.

The APFA asked Kidman to “not lend your voice, your image, and your good name to Etihad Airways” because “the UAE and their airlines are well known in our industry for their discriminatory labour practices and deplorable treatment of female employees”.

Etihad reaffirmed its commitment to its workers and listed benefits that go beyond the requirements of UAE laws.

“Etihad provides many benefits that exceed those requirements significantly, such as housing allowances, comprehensive medical insurance, education expenses, company-wide performance bonuses, robust HR practices, career advancement, global flight benefits, emergency services, childcare services and a generous leave policy,” a spokesman said.

“In addition, Etihad’s base in the UAE provides a tax-free environment to its employees.

“Etihad fully supports its cabin crew during and after their pregnancy. When a cabin crew member informs Etihad of a pregnancy, she is provided with appropriate ground duties for the duration of their pregnancy.

“During this time, she remains fully compensated and fully engaged on the ground.

“Cabin crew are also entitled to paid maternity leave if they have completed more than one year’s service. Our cabin crew are able to return to their flying role at the end of the maternity leave.”

The airline employs about 24,000 staff from more than 140 nationalities in roles ranging from pilots and crew to core staff at its offices around the world.

More than 260,000 candidates applied to fill 1,700 crew positions and about 500 pilot posts, the spokesman said.

Last year, Etihad was named Employer of the Year at the Middle East HR Awards and one of the Global 100 most in-demand employers by LinkedIn.

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