x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Airline to quarter crew at Meydan

Emirates Airline is investing in new property developments to provide housing for new pilots.

A model of Meydan at Cityscape Dubai. Emirates Airline has bought land in the development to build staff accommodation.
A model of Meydan at Cityscape Dubai. Emirates Airline has bought land in the development to build staff accommodation.

It is known for hosting the world's richest horse race, but soon the vast Meydan development on the outskirts of Dubai could also be home to hundreds of Emirates Airline staff.

The carrier has bought land from Meydan Group, the operator of Dubai's new luxury racecourse, to build accommodation for its swelling ranks of aircraft pilots.

The decision will provide a boost to Meydan, the multi-purpose property development covering 1,900 hectares, as it develops the land around the racecourse that is home to next week's Dubai World Cup.

The deal also illustrates some of the costs Gulf airlines face in looking after their employees.

The airline plans to develop 528 villas for its pilots in a project called Meydan Heights, which will be built on a plot of 261,000 square metres. The land will be developed on a 15-year lease-to-own basis.

Already the world's largest international airline by capacity, Emirates has more than 30,000 employees and is engaged in another rapid growth phase. The Dubai airline is the world's largest buyer of the Airbus A380 double-decker passenger plane with 15 in operation and an additional 75 of the 500-seat planes on order. Each A380 requires the airline to hire 20 pilots and 130 cabin crew on average, Emirates has said.

In addition to new pilots, the carrier plans to hire an additional 4,000 cabin crew this year, to bring its total to 16,000.

"With Emirates's continued growth we have a need to implement a strong recruitment drive to ensure we meet the demands of our fleet and network expansion," said Ali al Soori, the airline's executive vice president of facilities, projects management and procurement.

"Recruiting the best pilots means providing them not only with maximum job satisfaction, but also with a harmonious living environment and we are confident that Meydan Heights will provide this."

Neither Emirates nor Meydan announced the value of the deal. Last year, Meydan said a development sold to the accountancy company G & Co was worth Dh370 million (US$100.7m) for 200 villas, a town hall, swimming pool and residents' clubhouse, lake, children's playground and park.

In total, the Meydan project plans four districts: the racecourse and grandstand; Meydan Metropolis business park; Meydan Horizons, with business towers and waterfront developments; and Meydan Godolphin Parks, with a tower created in the image of a thoroughbred horse.

Emirates Airline's investments in property highlight some of the challenges it faces in attracting and keeping aviation professionals from other parts of the world.

Etihad Airways has also been forced to enter into non-aviation business deals to ensure its staff had access to convenient and high-quality accommodation.

It linked up with Aldar Properties to build its Al Abraj accommodation for staff and crew, which opened in 2008 near Abu Dhabi International Airport.