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19 Mar 2013 16:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has welcomed another group of Emirati graduates. 

A total of 237 graduates were recognised in a ceremony at the Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Monday, March 18, 2013. The graduates comprised 15 UAE national cadet pilots and 29 cadet pilots of other nationalities; 24 graduate managers, five of whom completed the Finance Development Program; and 169 contact centre staff, including 35 Omani nationals.

Etihad Airways is renowned as one of the UAE’s leading Emirati employers and has been widely praised for its Emiratisation recruitment program. The airline works closely with the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council, HCT, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi University, and other organisations to further enhance its ability to recruit nationals.

UAE nationals currently represent 22.4% of the Etihad Airways core workforce.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The most valuable asset of any organisation is its people and this is why staff development is such a significant focus for us. Through our innovative Emiratisation program, we work hard to develop our UAE national staff, and to that end, we continue to invest in state-of-the-art educational facilities.”

Since Etihad Airways began its Emiratisation program in 2007, 229 cadet pilots, 127 graduate managers, and 206 contact centre agents have passed through the Etihad Training Academy and are now deployed in posts across the airline.

The graduating cadet pilots completed an 18-month training course and have now joined the airline as second officers. During their training, cadets must complete 900 hours of classroom tuition and 201 hours of flight training in single and multi-engine aircrafts. Cadets must also pass the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority’s technical and flying exams to receive a UAE Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

Upon receipt of their ATPL, cadet pilots join Etihad Airways as second officers and undergo specific training on their allocated aircraft using the airline’s cutting-edge flight simulators. After approximately six months, the second officers will qualify as first officers.

Fahad Abdelkarim Fahad Mohamed Al Jesmi, one of the graduating cadet pilots, said of his experience: “I have always had a passion for flying and traveling to new places that I have never been. But dreams always remain dreams unless one works hard to achieve them, and that was what I did by joining Etihad Airways’ Cadet Pilot Program.”

The graduation ceremony also included 19 graduate managers who completed a 21-month Graduate Managers Development Program (GMDP). Their instruction included a nine-month orientation through key Etihad departments, followed by a six-month placement in head office or a four-month placement in an outstation, depending on the position.

The graduates will be assigned to various positions across the Etihad Airways’ network, such as duty manager in Sydney and Geneva, and manager of sales development in Washington, D.C. and Paris. The five graduates of the Finance Development Program will assume positions such as leasing officer, procurement controller and finance officer. As part of their instruction, the graduates completed a 12-month workplace rotation through all areas of Finance.

Mohamed Yahia Madour, who will be stationed at Etihad headquarters as a manager of product development, said: “The GMDP program gave us a chance to explore multiple disciplines of the aviation world. I am grateful for this unique experience and I don’t think I would have been able to receive this kind of exposure anywhere else.”

In 2009, Etihad Airways announced the creation of an all female UAE national contact centre in Al Ain. Training for these employees included a comprehensive 10-week course, designed and delivered in partnership with Abu Dhabi University in Al Ain.

Mouza Khalfan Al Raisi, who chose to join the Al Ain contact centre, said: “I found myself fitting in well at Etihad Airways. Leading the social committee at the Al Ain contact centre has helped to develop my leadership and organisation skills. We work together as one family with the goal of strengthening our national identity.”

Etihad’s Emiratisation program was awarded “Best Nationalisation Friendly Initiative” in 2011 at the GCC HR Excellence Awards. In 2012, the airline received the Middle East HR Excellence Awards for “Recruitment Program of the Year” and “HR Initiative of the Year.”

“We are not only hiring Emiratis to work in Etihad Airways, but we are also helping them build their career paths in the aviation industry,” said Mr. Hogan. “This reflects our commitment to attract, develop, and more importantly, retain our highly qualified UAE nationals.”

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