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Etihad Airways expands pilot numbers, plans to hire ‘hundreds’ in coming years

Captain Francesco De Liddo and First Officer Paolo Sala
Captain Francesco De Liddo and First Officer Paolo Sala

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced the recruitment of 40 fully-qualified pilots from Alitalia, the national airline of Italy, as part of a large-scale global campaign to hire between 500 to 600 captains and first officers over the next three years.

The new recruits are currently in the process of transferring to Etihad Airways under a three-year contract, with the option to become a permanent employee after this period. In total, 38 of the pilots are expected to commence work at Etihad Airways before the end of this year, while the remaining two will join the airline during the first two months of 2015.

Captain Francesco De Liddo and First Officer Paolo Sala became the first two recruits from the group to be welcomed by Etihad Airways. Both employees will attend a three-month training programme to convert their pilot licence from Airbus A330 and A320 to Boeing 777 aircraft.

The three-part programme, which is conducted in-house at the Etihad Training Academy in Abu Dhabi, will be attended by 16 pilots from the group who are changing the aircraft type rating in their licence. It will initially focus on a corporate induction and specialist training in areas such as aircraft systems, safety and special operations. This is followed by simulator training and, finally, line training on Etihad Airways’ aircraft. The remaining 24 recruits are continuing under their existing type rating and will undertake a shorter two-month training program in Abu Dhabi.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, “Etihad Airways will hire hundreds of pilots over the next three years to keep pace with the rapid expansion of our aircraft fleet and global network. To help achieve our target, we conducted a roadshow in Italy earlier this year to present our airline to Alitalia’s pilots, and invited those interested in joining us to attend interviews and assessments in Rome or Abu Dhabi. The successful applicants are fully motivated and excited about the unique career development opportunities ahead, and we are delighted to welcome pilots of their calibre into the Etihad Airways family.”

Captain De Liddo and First Officer Sala are expected to commence their line training on Etihad Airways’ aircraft by January 2015 and will have the opportunity, along with their pilot colleagues on the Boeing 777, to fly across the airline’s international network, from short-haul services to Saudi Arabia to ultra-long-haul services to the United States and Australia.

Captain De Liddo said, “There is a real sense of excitement amongst the pilots that are transferring from Alitalia to Etihad Airways, and we are all united in our dedication to serving the airline and its passengers to the best of our ability. In return, Etihad Airways has committed to developing our skills and experience, and providing us with fast-track career progression opportunities. I am honoured to be the first captain that has completed the move from Alitalia and look forward to participating in the three-month training program in Abu Dhabi.”