Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l) has offered its pilots two-year secondments to local rival Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) in order to avoid putting staff on unpaid leaves, the One Mile At A Time blog has reported citing an internal Etihad employee communication.

"Following the introduction of the 'leave without pay' programme, we now have an opportunity for some pilots to take up a secondment opportunity with Emirates Airline. The opportunity will see these pilots that successfully complete the Emirates selection process, seconded to Emirates for two years, upon completion of line training," Etihad said.

The seconded pilots will be paid by Emirates and will receive all benefits from the Dubai Int'l-based carrier but will retain their seniority at Etihad. They will be able to resume their work for Etihad after two years.

Loss-making Etihad Airways continues to be haunted by its failed equity investments in Europe, including Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) and Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), amid other financial worries. In the 2017 financial year, the Emirati flag carrier posted a net loss of USD1.52 billion. This has forced the carrier to undertake a major route network restructuring which has reduced the need for pilots at Etihad.

On the other hand, Emirates has been struggling with a pilot shortage which has forced the carrier to slow down its growth recently and to temporarily ground a number of aircraft and cut frequencies. The cooperation would address both problems.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, there is a partial overlap of aircraft types operated by the two carriers with both operating B777-Fs, B777-300(ER)s, and A380-800s.