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Category Archives: Reactions

Update from Tom: Fake secrecy

A blog update from Mr Tom Burgess, former Senior Vice President of Emirates Group IT.

It is sad to witness the Emirates Group’s deterioration accelerating. The knee jerk and badly managed actions which I feared (but hoped would be avoided had Herr Mueller managed to get an early and firm grip on the organisation) are well underway, and probably unstoppable. I am sure that many of you would have seen a video of Herr Mueller’s interview whilst he was CEO at Aer Lingus and been impressed by his genuine understanding of the importance of people in any organisation. I certainly was. I felt that if anyone could turn Emirates around, then he could. But it was a big ask. He probably has the support of over 95% of Emirates’ staff – essential for someone wanting to make wholesale changes – but nobody would have underestimated the challenges presented within the remaining few per cent. When I struggled to get Patrick Naef to see (what I was convinced was) common sense, I often felt that I was ‘pissing into the wind’. Herr Mueller has probably been facing a hurricane over the past six months.

Patrick Naef’s communication (at the end of last month) to EG-IT staff is another example of corporate incompetence and duplicity. He trivialises events by suggesting that they are just part of a review “on the way we work” and avoids revealing the true size of yet another one of his crusades against loyal members of his department. He promises openness, yet proceeds in secrecy – some staff had already been forced out before the note was sent. His communication is so amateurish it would be seen as laughable, if the topic was not so serious. But I guess everyone would have allowed themselves a wry smile at Patrick Naef’s heart-warming promise to those leaving of his “support during the transition”. This is like being introduced, just as you are about to enter theatre for major surgery, to someone who will be on hand at all times to give you “every support” and then discovering that it is the Grim Reaper.

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Update from Tom: Gary Chapman

Another blog update from Mr Tom Burgess, former Senior Vice President of Emirates Group IT.

The blog is about rotten EK management structure and corrupted, dishonest, incapable and manipulative senior EK managers with Gary Chapman, president Group Services and Dnata, as their leader.

I have previously provided my thoughts and experiences of the other four members of what I affectionately (honestly!) call the ‘Gang of Five’, so now I turn my attention to Gary Chapman. Like most people who have worked in the Emirates Group, I have heard many stories about, and views of, Gary Chapman. This is natural, given his position. But I will base what I write solely on my own experiences. Gary Chapman was happy to see me fired based on second hand information which was not true, but that is no excuse for me to alter my standards. I will cover my personal experiences with him later on in this update, but I will first make some observations on what we can all see.

The Emirates Group is in disarray. Profits are down, Group headcount is far in excess of what can be afforded and staff morale was low even before the redundancy programmes commenced. For a number of years everyone has seen the need for serious change, but all we have observed at the top has been a serious case of paralysis. The situation is now so bad that someone from outside of the Group has been brought in to sort out the mess. The acute problems in the airline cannot be laid directly at Gary Chapman’s door and I am sure that the Group has enjoyed a steady flow of income thanks to Gary’s business acumen, but the performance of support areas for which he has responsibility has been a major contributor to the problems that are now evident.

Bringing in a highly experienced fresh pair of hands is a good start, but I wonder how the obvious changes that are required are going to be implemented. When I was in the Group, I did not meet anyone who had experience of complex and major change programmes. There was limited depth in terms of day to day man management skills and, apart from the late Sir Maurice Flanagan, nobody was seen as a traditional ‘leader’. Combined, these issues posed a significant risk so the Leadership Development initiative was launched. But what has that achieved? Demonstrably very little as the Emirates Group management structure remains as it has been for many years, just layer upon layer of supervisors, each ascending level proudly boasting an even bigger capital S. Who has responsibility for Leadership Development? Gary Chapman.

 

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Not so glamorous Emirates Airline lifestyle

I’ve read this article on Yahoo Lifestyle yesterday and wondered how far can a pursuit for the profit go? And does doing business these days means only flooding the media with stories which promote your desirable image? Does any CEO or business owner today thinks they can resolve their inner organizational and human resources problems with a few positive image articles on the internet? How long before managers figure out that they cannot beat the internet because it gives an equal power to everyone, including those whose voice managers don’t want to hear?

I am not glad to see that EK managers hadn’t learned much about running the long lasting business. They are still trying to mask the problems with the old “high class lifestyle” public discourse, while their company is falling apart from the inside.

Is it that human conscience is limited with its own mortality so much that managers simply don’t care what will happen after they go, or they simply don’t know how to think in future terms? Maybe combination of both, but, in the meantime, while EK is struggling with its limited managers whose only job is, it seems, to drink Costa coffee in the HQ Costa cafe and to make sure that internet gets its daily dose of “Emirates high class lifestyle” articles, this blog will publish not so glamorous stories about the real lifestyle inside Emirates Airline.

I’ve got this story as a comment on my blog and decided to publish it as an article because I had similar health issues while I was working in EK (without health insurance!). When your employer doesn’t care about your health, I guess you have to take care of yourself and the internet can be a good doctor in the world which recognizes only money for its supreme leader.

costa

 

“Dragna, I have been following your blog for about 2 years. I’ve resigned from EK in 2013.

I left because I felt we as crew were not treated fairly, there was no Support system we could rely on.
2012 I was diagnosed with a begnine tumor in my uterus, and after pleading with my manager to let me come home for the operation (because they wanted me to have the surgery in Dubai, and if so, I’m pretty sure I would have died,since I had complication during it), I was allowed one month for surgery and recovery.

Obviously it took more than one month, and while recovering I was stressing out, because I kept seeing flights being rostered, and, just because I hadn’t sent my doctor’s letter on time (I was at the hospital) stating that I was still in hospital and could not return.
There was no one in charge to contact directly (they were closed for Eid) and instead of being relaxed and advancing on my recovery, I was freaking out.

It was one of the most horrific experiences of my life.

Later I found out that the reason that tumor had developed was due to hormonal inbalance caused by lack of proper nutriton, rest and stress.
In conversation with at least 7 female crew, i found out that they too had had simililar problems, and had to have surgery.

My last year at Emirates I was A380 FG1, more than once I had to eat standing and while the service was going on. I would grab a bite everytime I enter the galley and chew before I took the next item of food to the customer. With On Demand service, breaks to eat are nearly impossible.

When I came back home for good, I had medical tests done and I was diagnosed with severe anaemia, not to mention that I fell into deep depression which I’m still battling with.

The good times of my EK experience were completely obscured by the many bad things that happened. Sad to say it.

Anonymous”

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A few photos of the damaged Emirates plane

Emirates plane catches fire in Dubai; hundreds escape, 1 firefighter killed

August 3, 2016

 


“Flying tired: airline pilots on tough rosters battle fatigue”

I’ve got a kind request to feature this article from the Australian Newspaper “The Sydney Morning Herald”.
I have to say I made a decision to stop blogging almost a year ago, but somehow I keep getting requests to publish EK employees’ stories.

Since I understand that this blog is maybe the only outlet of many to write about injustices and troubles they’ve been through, I never had a heart not to publish a personal experience of someone who has obviously been through a lot of humiliation and stress just because some EK manager wants to show their power or is incompetent and inhumane or directly violates human and labor rights.
So here it is. Another request fulfilled. Hope it will bring some good to all the responsible and good EK employees out there.

Seems that we care about that company and its passengers more than its managers do.

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In some situations, pilots are allowed to nap on the flight deck to alleviate fatigue. Photo: Jim Rice

For passengers, the 5am flight from Brisbane to Sydney during daylight saving time in NSW is hardly a pleasant experience. But spare a thought for the two pilots who have probably woken up about 2:30am to make the 4am sign-on and may then have to make four flights over an 11 to 12-hour period.

“Back-to-back of these is very, very fatiguing,” says a Qantas 737 pilot.

Or consider the late evening flight from Sydney to Perth.

The passengers arrive in Perth after midnight local time, but at Jetstar and Tigerair Australia, the two pilots on board will head straight back to Sydney, arriving just in time to battle peak-hour traffic before they can make it home to rest.

“It is pretty hard to make the case that you are on your A-game at the top of descent [into Sydney] on the return leg,” a Jetstar A320 pilot says.

“There are duties you do at Jetstar that wouldn’t be entertained at Qantas. A low-cost carrier is more intense in terms of the rostering requirements.”

Many industries fatigued

Pilots are hardly the only workers in Australia with exhausting shifts. Truck drivers, miners, doctors, nurses and others also work long shifts with hours that can   disrupt the biological clock.

“By and large, pilots are at the low end of the fatigue scale in terms of other industries,” says Professor Drew Dawson, a sleep and fatigue specialist at CQUniversity Australia. “At the other end, they are at the high end of the consequence scale.”

The crash of a Flydubai 737 at Rostov-on-Don, Russia, last month that killed all 62 passengers and crew on board has reignited discussion of fatigue management within aviation circles at a time when Australia is close to introducing new fatigue regulations.

The accident is still being investigated and whether fatigue was definitely a factor is unknown. But the crash occurred in tough circumstances at 3:50am local time (4:50am Dubai time), after two hours of circling due to bad weather and two aborted landing attempts. Scientific studies show mental alertness can be at its poorest during the “window of circadian low” between 2am and 5am.

Emirates’ tiring schedule

The airline, like fellow Dubai-based carrier Emirates, is known among pilots for having rosters that are within the United Arab Emirates legal limits but nonetheless very tiring.

In the UAE, the maximum flying time is 100 hours per 28 days versus 100 hours per 30 days in Australia. On an annual basis, UAE pilots can fly 1000 hours a year versus 900 a year here.

“The point about regulation is you can have flight-duty time limitations in which you can produce two compliant rosters but one can be extremely friendly and low fatigue risk and one can be extremely high fatigue risk,” says CQUniversity associate professor and sleep expert Matthew Thomas.

He says as a rough guide, research shows if a pilot has less than five hours sleep in the 24 hours before flying, twice as many errors may occur.

Pilot fatigue has been cited as a factor in at least 12 accidents and 64 near misses globally over the past 10 years, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. But more than half of all accidents are caused by pilot errors and it is possible fatigue is understated as a factor in official reporting.

‘We are not machines’

The ATSB report on one of Australia’s worst-ever accidents, the Emirates flight 407 runway overrun and tail strike at Melbourne Airport in 2009, said fatigue was unlikely to have been a factor, but the flight’s captain told media he was sleep-deprived.

The error that caused the EK407 incident was the input of the aircraft’s weight as 100 tonnes lighter than it actually was.

A former Emirates 777 captain said he had once made a similar mistake when flying for the Dubai-based carrier as a result of fatigue, but luckily it had been caught by another pilot before take-off.

“Everything is legal of course,” he said of the Emirates rosters. “But we are not machines.”

Pilots at many airlines are allowed what is called “controlled rest on the flight deck”, which means they can put their head back and nap in their chair for short periods, typically under 40 minutes, as long as the other pilot is retaining a close watch over the flight during the cruise period.

Both asleep

However, the former Emirates captain said pilots were often so tired that one would allow the other to sleep for two to three hours at a time. On occasion, the pilot supposed to be watching the controls would accidentally fall asleep for a few minutes, meaning if a sudden incident occurred mid-air, the reaction times of both would be slowed.

“I have flown with guys that have woken up mid-flight and the other pilot has been asleep mid-flight between Dubai and London,” says a Qantas A380 pilot. “This should not happen as the cabin crew are supposed to call up every 30 minutes but some crews may call them and say do not call as one of the pilots is having a controlled rest.”

For airlines, adding more pilots on sectors or changing rosters could come at a financial cost. The carriers naturally want to maximise their profitability by having their highly paid pilots fly as many hours as possible within the rules. But they are also interested in safety, as serious incidents and crashes cause brand damage and lawsuits they want to avoid.

Another potential problem is that pilot fatigue is probably underreported by the pilots themselves, albeit more so at some carriers than others depending on the company culture.  Reporting fatigue requires the pilot to fill out a form with an explanation and takes longer than ringing in sick.

Open culture call

“What we want is an open reporting culture,” says Australian Federation of Air Pilots executive director Simon Lutton. “They shouldn’t be doing a flight if they are not in a fit state to do it.”

Pilots at major Australian carriers said there was no punishment for reporting fatigue and in some cases it led the airline to take steps to fix the situation, if it was due to a factor such as a noisy lay-over hotel.

Airlines have also changed some rosters over time as a result of pilots reporting fatigue. When Virgin changed the timing of its Sydney-Los Angeles flight by nearly four hours, it first assessed potential fatigue hazards for pilots. Qantas is reviewing the possibility of rostering on a third pilot on the QF2 flight from London to Dubai as a result of feedback.

“My experience with Qantas has been very positive,” a 737 pilot said. “If you need time off and you ask for it, then the company has always been able to arrange that.”

The situation differs in other parts of the world, where there are no unions or Western-style seniority system.

“There are all sorts of ways you can put pressure on pilots,” a Virgin 737 pilot says of situation in the Middle East. “If you don’t like it, all you can really do is leave.”

Fatigue ‘taken seriously’

A current Emirates pilot said reporting fatigue often led to sleep apnoea testing and at least a temporary grounding. The former Emirates captain said his high use of sick days, mostly when fatigued, was noticed by management and delayed his promotion from first officer to captain for months.

An Emirates spokeswoman would not say whether taking reporting illness or fatigue could affect promotion, but said the airline maintained “the highest standards” when considering a promotion to captain.

“Flight fatigue is an issue we take seriously,” she says. “If pilots feel that Emirates has not addressed their concerns, they also have recourse of addressing this with the regulator, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).”

The president of GCAA, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, is also the chairman and chief executive of Emirates and the chairman of Flydubai.

Australia’s new rules

Locally, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in 2013 introduced new rules for pilot fatigue management. They were initially supposed to take effect this month, but the deadline was moved to May 2017 to give airlines more time to develop new systems.

The old fatigue rules defined flight and duty time limitations in a rigid way with no regard to the science behind fatigue, including whether pilots are acclimatised to the time zone. The new rules provide more flexibility for individual airlines, but each fatigue risk management system will require CASA’s approval.

Australian and International Pilots Association president Nathan Safe, whose union represents Qantas pilots, says the new science-based approach to flight-time limitations based on factors including circadian lows was welcome, but the real test will be in how it is implemented and operated.

For the major commercial airlines, the new system could result in less flying rather than more flying in many cases.

Regional Express last year claimed the new rules could cost it more than $4 million a year and might make some routes unviable.

CASA will be taking a much firmer approach to extensions of duty, with airlines required to monitor weather and airspace patterns statistically before calculating duty periods.

“Operators need to be more realistic about the possible delays in the system and ensure that if there are foreseeable delays, they can be incorporated into the maximum allowable duty period and don’t result in an extension,” a CASA spokesman said.

A Qantas 737 pilot says the change is welcome. “It will mean that Qantas will no longer be able to schedule near 12-hour day patterns,” he says.

Since 2007, Virgin has operated a data-driven fatigue risk management. Qantas, Jetstar and Tigerair are still developing their systems ahead of next May’s deadline.

It is unclear whether Jetstar and Tigerair will end the tiring Sydney-Perth-Sydney night shifts under the new system.

Qantas and Virgin say the reason these shifts aren’t done at the main carriers is because they are prohibited in the unionised employment agreements, rather than because of fatigue concerns.

Qantas Group medical director Dr Ian Hosegood said the group’s airlines have robust systems in place to manage fatigue, including a fatigue management committee which includes pilots, safety specialists and crew planners.

“We closely monitor fatigue risk on all shifts, particularly longer and late night shifts,” he says.

For example, Qantas recently changed its rostering after the Tokyo-Brisbane route, which lands at 6:45am in Brisbane after 10 hours of duty. The pilots now start their duties the following day at a later time with a reduced workload of one to two short domestic sectors.

Dr Dawson, the fatigue specialist, says pilots must also bear some responsibility, and try to limit distractions at home and partying on the road to ensure they are rested before flights.

And after more than a decade of studying fatigue in the aviation industry, he says the issue doesn’t particularly worry him when he takes a flight.

“The number of flights that crash is less than one in a million,” Dr Dawson says. “I’ve got more chance being killed on the way to the airport than in an airplane.”

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/business/aviation/flying-tired-airline-pilots-on-tough-rosters-battle-fatigue-20160413-go5fmo.html


Emirates Airline a ‘golden cage’ that reinforces ‘culture of fear’ – whistleblower website

 

RT Video News

Employees of Emirates Airline refer to the company as a “golden cage,” which allegedly exhausts crews beyond their limits and employs punishments when complaints are filed, the administrator of a dedicated whistleblower site has told RT.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the administrator of donotflyemirates.wordpress.com, which collects the accounts of Emirates Airline pilots and publishes their stories online, stressed that the company creates “a culture of fear,” where workers feel unprotected, targeted and trapped.

The site administrator noted that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) does not allow unions, which leaves staff even more vulnerable to abuse.

“If you make a mistake – or even if you don’t make a mistake, if someone blames you for something – you don’t get the chance to defend yourself. You just get the warning, they just fire you.”

“After some time spent in Dubai you feel like everything you have, your whole life is in danger. Because if you get fired, you’re going to lose your house, you’re going to lose your whole life. This is why they are referring to it as a ‘golden cage.’”

The whistleblower site is already banned in the UAE, but the airline wanted to silence it further, as Emirates Airline lawyers reached out to WordPress and urged the blogging platform to take down the whistleblower site, which it refused to do.

“I received a notification from WordPress platform, they notified me that Emirates lawyers tried to take down some content from my blog, and WordPress refused them.”

The administrator, who is a former employee of Emirates Airline, told RT that all the pilots’ stories are received via email. They are all verified before they are published.

The site coordinator also received warning letters while still employed by the airline for having a “negative influence on others” when discussing shifts and workloads.

Earlier, RT spoke to current as well as former Emirates pilots, who confirmed that the company forces them to take heavy workloads and implements “bullying” techniques.

An ex-Emirates employee described the company’s rosters as “brutal,” as the pilots are “expected to switch from day to night… duties without enough rest in between,” adding that he “loses several nights of sleep every month,” is “constantly tired,” and has “no energy to do anything.”

Making matters worse is the fact that the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), charged with regulating aviation safety, has failed to act. Speaking to RT on condition of anonymity, a former Emirates pilot said that the Dubai-based aviation watchdog is not independent from the state, and thus cannot adequately fulfill its duties.

The problem is further exacerbated as the GCAA is controlled by the same people in charge of the airline. Another pilot employed by Emirates revealed that the GCAA is chaired by the CEO of Emirates Airline & Group – Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

The airline itself has refused to acknowledge the problem of pilot fatigue when contacted by RT.

 

The latest response from an Emirates spokesperson claimed that the company meets the required standards.

“Emirates operates in a safe, highly regulated environment and our safety record, which ranks among the top in the industry, demonstrates our rigorous standards. Our crew rosters are built based on GCAA rules, which are in line with recognized international organization standards. Emirates has a Pilot Fatigue Risk Management system that continuously examines flight crew roster patterns and reviews any feedback received from our pilots. Therefore, we cannot substantiate any of the anonymous allegations that have been reported by Russia Today.”

“Emirates actively encourages staff to report on all aspects of safety so that proper analysis and investigations can be conducted. All staff are provided with a direct, easy link with management to report and provide feedback, regardless of its nature.”

However, the Emirates pilot that most recently spoke with RT disagrees, arguing that even though the airline has a Pilot Fatigue Risk Management system, it rarely does anything to address the problem. Instead, it pursues tactics of pilot intimidation to discourage further complaints.

“We file ASRs [Aviation Safety Reports], we highlight problems, and [for that] we can get called by the management, brought into the office… They highlighted a problem, they [could have] made a mistake, whether due to tiredness or just an error…and for that they simply give you a warning letter, this is happening all the time. And what happens is, people are becoming afraid to write ASRs to highlight issues, and it gets hidden,” the pilot said.

The problem is that while exhausting rosters are not illegal, they are “immoral” and “not consistent with sleep patterns,” added the pilot. “When you are flying more than 100 hours a month these issues are cumulative, and they build up. You just start to feel worse and worse and worse… But the airline will tell you ‘our rosters are legal.’ Yes, they are legal rosters. They do have some illegal rostering practices – but they won’t admit to that.”

When describing his personal experience of fatigue during flights, the pilot said that he and his co-pilot had both fallen asleep when approaching the ground, “the time when you need to be most alert.”

Aside from the issue of pilot fatigue, Emirates Airline tries to appear more professional by reusing old employee numbers on new staff, thus making it seem that they have a well-experienced team in charge of the flights, one cabin crew member told RT.

However, the reality is that the majority of new staff are resigning within six months. Newcomers cannot cope with the workload and fatigue.”

Source: https://www.rt.com/news/338442-emirates-airline-whistleblower-site/


‘Emirates crews extremely fatigued’: Exhausted pilots tell RT of disturbing conditions

It’s so sad that Emirates Airline managers were warned in more than a year and a half ago that public will soon know about the bad treatment of their employees and the violation of labour rights and that their image and brand will be ruined. They’ve got that advice as a threat when they should have got it as an advice in a good will and do everything to improve working conditions.