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14 Sep 2014 10:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced plans to establish a dedicated Revenue Accounting Centre of Excellence in Al Ain, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and create job opportunities for more than 1,000 Emiratis over the next three years. 

The centre will be a global leader in revenue accounting, offering a range of competitively priced services that will bring cost savings and operational efficiencies to airlines, including Etihad Airways. It will also create long-term economic value for the emirate of Abu Dhabi. 

More than 500 Emiratis will be hired during the project’s first year of operation. Total employee numbers are forecast to exceed 800 by the end of 2016, and more than 1,000 by the end of 2017, depending on the level of demand from participating airlines around the world. 

In addition to serving Etihad Airways, the centre will be equally available to a number of its network partners and other airlines around the world. Customers will be provided with access to global best practices, proven techniques and the latest airline developments in order to optimise results, redirect valuable internal resources, and focus their best people on core business.  

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Revenue accounting is an expensive and time consuming aspect of the global airline business. However, through the establishment of a world-class centre of excellence, Etihad Airways and other airlines can achieve both financial and operational success. A range of outsourced support services will be offered by the centre, with a focus on optimising processes and platforms to boost efficiency, and combining back office functions to attain economies of scale. 

“This project is also aligned with a long-term commitment to grow our Emirati workforce. It is Etihad Airways’ most ambitious Emiratisation project to date and follows the success of existing programs for cadet pilots, engineers and graduate managers, together with our Al Ain Contact Centre. By the end of 2017, the new centre of excellence will provide opportunities for more than 1,000 Emiratis to progress their careers in revenue accounting and other areas of finance, or move into other areas of the airline business and develop into future industry experts.” 

Almost 100 Emiratis have already been hired as part of the ambitious project, following a successful recruitment campaign in Al Ain, held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council (ADTC). To continue the momentum, a nationwide newspaper campaign to promote recruitment opportunities will soon commence in leading publications across the UAE. 

The first group of employees has also received globally recognised certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as part of a comprehensive six-week training program. They will join the Revenue Accounting Centre of Excellence from 1 October 2014, working to integrate with the major functions of each airline, such as revenue management, network planning, alliances, commercial strategy, financial accounting, and reporting. 

The centre will initially be based at the Al Ain campus of Abu Dhabi University (ADU), in close proximity to Etihad Airways’ award-winning contact centre, the first phase of which is staffed and managed by a team of 170 UAE national women, while a second phase opened last month with an additional 70 agents providing bilingual Arabic and English assistance. A permanent base is currently being finalised in Al Ain to support the project’s long-term development. 

Etihad Airways currently has a workforce of 20,675 employees, an increase of 28 per cent year-on-year. Within the core airline, 1,681 employees are UAE nationals, 29 per cent more than the same period in 2013, and Emiratis are the number one nationality group at manager level. 

Earlier this year, Etihad Airways welcomed the latest group of graduates from its innovative development program to join divisions across the airline as pilots, managers, contact centre staff and technical engineers. The 217 graduates were recognised at a gala ceremony held in Abu Dhabi and included 65 Emirati cadet pilots and 20 cadet pilots of other nationalities; 74 Emirati graduate managers, 44 Emirati contact centre staff and 14 Emirati technical trainees.

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