More than 45 percent of British Airways' Middle East employees have volunteered to work fewer hours in a bid to help the airline cope with the global economic crisis, it has emerged.
Almost half the airline's 178-strong workforce in the region signed up to the airline's Business Response Scheme, which gave staff the chance to opt for "flexible ways of working" including part-time employment, reduced hours, volunteering for extra work and unpaid leave.
In an interview with Arabian Travel News, area general manager Asia, The Pacific & Asia, Ashley Cowen said 7,000 BA employees in total chose one of these options.
"It was across all aspects of the business, including pilots and cabin crew and at the moment that scheme continues to run - it wasn't just a one off offer," he said.
Cowen stressed that there were no plans to make the Business Response Scheme compulsory at present.
"We have taken out 5 percent of our capacity this year compared to last year and the business is slightly smaller so we need a few less people," he said.
"We reduced the workforce significantly when the 450 managers left the business last year - in that sense, our employee count is lower."
Cowen said although the Middle East had not been immune from the financial crisis, in terms of BA's performance, this market had held up well compared to most others.
"We have managed to increase frequencies to Dubai and in June, re-instated our flights to Saudi Arabia, with frequencies already increased there since," he noted.
"We have seen good load factors out of the Middle East and good responses to customer service surveys. When we see growth returning to the Middle East market and business recovers, I am sure there will be plenty of potential in this region," he added.