Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) has asked some pilots to take a year of unpaid leave as it seeks to cut costs due to the impact of COVID-19, the airline confirmed to ch-aviation.

"We can confirm that we have offered some of our pilots unpaid leave for 12 months, with the possibility of an early recall back to duty depending on how quickly demand rebounds and our operational requirements. During unpaid leave, the company will continue to provide accommodation, medical cover and other allowances,” an Emirates spokesperson said in an email to ch-aviation. “We continue to do all we can to protect our talent pool for post-pandemic business recovery, but we also need to consider the impact of the current situation on our operations and cost base. Across the Group, we are implementing various offers including unpaid leave and more flexible working time models." The airline declined to comment on further details

Most Emirates’ employees are foreigners, meaning they are not eligible for government benefits in the United Arab Emirates where the airline is headquartered.

In July 2020, Emirates president Tim Clark told BBC News the airline would cut up to 9,000 jobs. By July, some 1,200 pilots had been given redundancy notices, with a focus on those flying Airbus planes as opposed to Boeing aircraft; while thousands of cabin crew were also told they were no longer needed. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Emirates has grounded 104 of its 114 A380-800s as a result of the pandemic, while continuing to operate all ten of its B777-200(LR)s, ten B777-200Fs and 128 B777-300(ER)s.

Before the crisis hit, Emirates employed some 60,000 staff, including 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew, according to its annual report.