This comes just days after the airline announced it was suspending all passenger flights until further notice.
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Letting its cabin crew go
According to reporting on April 1st by Airways Magazine, Oman Air has permanently terminated the contracts of hundreds of its cabin crew.
This information is based on comments by aviation analyst and Gulf Times columnist Alex Macheras. He also reports on Twitter that some pilots have been given notice of termination.
This is reported to have happened suddenly, with many of the cabin crew overseas on a layover when they were informed of the situation. The cabin crew will be paid 26 days in lieu, but their contracts were canceled with immediate effect.
Like many airlines, Oman Air employs a mix of local and foreign cabin crew. It is not known how many of the affected cabin crew are foreign citizens and how many are Omani citizens. Oman Air has, however, been committed for many years to recruiting more Omani citizens. In a 2016 press release about this, the airline quoted that of its 1,531 cabin crew and senior flight supervisors, 573 were from Oman.
Whilst the sudden termination is surprising, Oman Air had already announced its plans to cancel all flights. It had announced that all passenger flights would be suspended from 29th March, with no indication when flights will resume. Some cargo flights, however, would continue.
This was not unexpected after Oman closed its borders to foreigners and stopped its citizens leaving the country. Although, transit passengers at Muscat airport were still permitted. It joins a growing list of airlines grounding all flights, including other Middle Eastern airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways.
Speaking at the time of flight suspension, CEO Abdulaziz Al Raisi said:
“This is a temporary suspension of our passenger services. We regret the difficulty and inconvenience this may cause, but it’s vital for us as the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman to assist in the country’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
No further comments have been made regarding airline staff, but it would seem this is part of the effort to survive the crisis. Passenger numbers would clearly be very low, with likely mostly just transit passengers, but limited as many other countries restrict their entry. Grounding flights in this situation will likely help the airline survive, and terminating crew contracts is an unfortunate addition to this.
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