LONDON – Kuwait Airways (KU) has this week announced it will lay-off around 1,500 of its foreign employees.

It is understood that this represents a cut of over 20% of the total workforce of 6,925 workers.

This airline joins a plethora of others who have also taken the decision to lay-off employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Twitter, the airline announced these job cuts is directly due to this virus.

“In dealing with the Coronavirus crisis and its negative impact on commercial operations … Kuwait Airways announces the termination of around 1,500 non-Kuwaiti employees”.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), revenues in the Middle East and Africa will drop by $24.5 billion as well as putting around 1.2 million jobs at risk.

The airline has already been making significant losses, with full-year accounts for the 2019 financial year recording a $435 million loss.

Further job losses are estimated, with AFP stating that the Kuwaiti municipality who own the airline will sack at least half of its 900 expatriate employees.

Most of the fleet of 30 aircraft at the airline have been grounded but some have been used for up to 200 repatriation flights which has brought home around 30,000 Kuwaiti nationals.

It is understood that the current mood in Kuwait has been one of job-losses.

Away from the airline industry, those in KU has been firing hundreds of employees in the wake of COVID.

In the case of KU, this makes the company the first government-run one to take the actions of job-cuts.

According to Gulf News, the carrier was looking to hiring an additional 1,000 workers before the virus hit, which now has been scrapped.

Middle East Being Hit Hard…

Kuwait Airways joins the other Middle-Eastern carriers in making such hard decisions to cut jobs.

Etihad Airways (EY) has been making “hundreds” of redundancies according to industry sources, with some even being let go on a daily basis.

PHOTO: Anna Zvereva

A Reuters spokeswoman confirmed this news stating that redundancies had been made across several areas.

“It is clear the demand for travel in the near future will be significantly reduced and as a result we must make difficult decisions to ensure Etihad will weather this storm”.

Etihad has lost around $5.6 billion since 2016, meaning that restructuring for the carrier is vital at the moment.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Emirates (EK) was planning to cut around 30,000 jobs amid the virus outbreak, although the airline has not confirmed this information as of yet.

Finally, Qatar Airways (QR) has made the decision to cut around 9,000 jobs out of the total 46,000 it has in its workforce.

It will be interesting to see how the Middle Eastern carriers will come out of this virus and whether the cuts will be enough to maintain survival in an already volatile industry.