x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Etihad to double Irish staff numbers to 200

Etihad starts a recruitment drive to hire 100 more cabin crew members from Ireland

Etihad is the only airline operating direct services from Ireland to the Middle East, flying from Dublin 10 times a week. Andrew Parsons / The National
Etihad is the only airline operating direct services from Ireland to the Middle East, flying from Dublin 10 times a week. Andrew Parsons / The National

Etihad Airways is to hire 100 more Irish cabin crew, more than doubling its number of employees from the country.

The recruitment drive will provide a welcome, if small, boost to Ireland's economy as it strives to rebound from sovereign and banking debt woes.

"We've built close relationships with Ireland and with Irish communities around the world since we began our service to Dublin four years ago," said James Hogan, the carrier's chief executive.

Etihad is the only airline operating direct services from Ireland to the Middle East, flying from Dublin 10 times a week.

But competition to carry passengers between Ireland and the UAE is expected to increase from January when Emirates Airline launches daily services from Dublin to Dubai. Over four years, Etihad has invested more than €16 million (Dh78m) in Ireland, with the cash going towards the airline's premium lounge and ground operations at the capital's airport. The airline has also invested in sponsorship in the Gaelic sport of hurling.

Ireland's economic growth is expected to cool in the second half of this year, in part because of the deteriorating outlook in the euro zone. Unemployment stands at about 14 per cent, with job openings limited by reduced government spending and a sluggish private sector.

The airline will hold cabin-crew recruitment open days in Dublin on November 30 and December 1. It plans to hold further open days in Cork and Belfast.

Mr Hogan, who is in Dublin to participate in the Global Irish Economic Forum, said Etihad appreciated the support received from Ireland since its services began. "Over the coming months and years, you will see that support repaid with continuing investment in the route and in our relationships here in the Irish market."

A significant portion of the 640,000 passengers Etihad has carried to date from Ireland have been bound for destinations beyond Abu Dhabi in Asia and Australasia. Emirates said it expected a similar trend on its flights when it announced its launch plans last month.

tarnold@thenational.ae