Emirates Airline is the flagship carrier of the Government of Dubai. It began its operations on October 25, 1985, with only two leased airplanes flying. At its inception, it was wholly owned by the government but it was given an independent status as it grew and became
profitable. Emirates Airline’s goal has always been to provide the highest quality service in all of its businesses. Because of its commitment to quality, the airline has received about three hundred international awards. The company grew at approximately twenty percent annually and now has more than a hundred aircraft on its fleet1. It’s now part of Emirates Group, an umbrella company engaged in transportation, travel, hotels and resorts.
The growth of the company was made possible by its highly diverse travel and tourism businesses. Emirates Airline is one of the group’s key companies. In order to extend its competitiveness, the company has embraced diversity in its organization in terms of its workforce and the types of businesses it is now involved with. Other than transporting passengers to destinations all over the world, the airline’s growth is supported by diversifying into cargo, travel and tours, aviation school, resorts and spas, and hotels and residences. It has also expanded its routes to eighty-nine destinations in fifty-five countries.
Lee and Park (2006) suggest that to stay competitive is to increase internationalization. To this end, Emirates has expanded its workforce to include people from all over the world. It has also increased its international routes by adding a direct flight from Dubai to Los Angeles, California2. Because of its growth, the airline has largely contributed to the $942 million net income that the Emirates Group made for the year ended March 31, 2007.
1. Leslie Wayne, “A Flight Plan for the Long Haul,” The New York Times.
2. Peter Pae, “Emirates Airlines to offer nonstop service from L.A. to Dubai,” Los Angeles Times.
Current Diversity Practices
Emirates Airline’s different businesses are managed and operated by people coming from Dubai and from other parts of the world. The crews of its air transport business come from more than a hundred and ten nationalities. The airline’s recruitment team regularly conducts job fairs in different countries in order to pick and choose candidates that have the potential to positively represent the company to the flying public.
Managing people coming from different cultures and making them work as a team takes energy and effort to accomplish. Bassett-Jones (2005) relates that diversity in the workplace can lead to innovation and positive competition. However, diversity can also be the cause of conflict, low morale, and poor performance. In order to promote cooperation and to properly manage diversity of the workforce, Emirates has a clearly defined corporate value of quality service, employee development and learning programs, and employee benefits.
Customer service and respect for one another are top priorities at Emirates Airline. Customers are categorized as external or internal. The external customers are those who are using the airline to fly to different destinations. The company emphasizes that these people are the life of Emirates; without them, there will be no airline to operate.
As such, the customers must always be treated with respect, courtesy, and care. As for the internal customers, these refer to co-employees and the people managing the business. Internal customers are to be treated with respect and anyone who needs help must be accommodated. In this manner, Emirates ensures that each employee will not exercise discrimination toward other groups. The company also mixes crew members in flights, where a flight manager acts as the person in charge for the safety and operation of the route.
Recognizing the importance of its crew, Emirates provides intensive training for its new crew, and refresher courses for the experienced ones. There is also a profit-sharing scheme and other benefits to encourage employees to perform at their best.
The strong points of Emirates Airline’s diversity practices are:
By teaching employees the company’s corporate value, the employees are obliged to overcome personal biases and to set aside cultural differences.
By emphasizing the group’s mission of providing excellent customer service, each employee strives to be excellent in his line of work.
Competition in the market prompts the airline to continually evolve and find ways to enhance its in-flight service
Employee training programs will benefit not only the individuals enrolled in the courses but the company as a whole; by investing in training, Emirates will be assured that its flight and cabin crew can provide passengers with the highest degree of care and comfort while traveling.
The different benefits available to employees encourage enthusiastic participation and recommendations to improve services. By having a profit-sharing scheme, the company becomes a company for the people.
The weak points of Emirates Airline’s diversity practices are:
Although customer service is applicable to employees’ dealings with one another, there are no clear-cut definitions regarding courtesy and being accommodating. These things may have different interpretations among cultures.
Despite embracing diversity in the workplace, the airline is not part of any international alliances.
Cabin crews are hired based on three-year contracts, which does not provide employees security in their jobs.
Emirates Airline’s diversity practices are in accordance with their mission of providing quality service to its passengers. The hiring of individuals from different nationalities ensures that the airline have crew members speaking various languages. People traveling from different nations would feel at ease and are sure to speak to at least one crew member who can understand him. The developmental trainings the company provides to its employees are geared toward making its personnel capable of making the passengers’ journey safety, comfortable and enjoyable. As a growing airline company, Emirates is widely considered as among the top performers in the industry.
Emirates Airline’s business practices are undoubtedly giving it a highly competitive edge in an industry dominated by international carriers from the United States and Europe. But like any other growing company, Emirates still has room to improve its operations, particularly in managing its diverse workforce. These are the things that Emirates should work on:
In developmental trainings, it would help its employees better understand each other by providing lectures on the different customs and practices in the world. By doing this, everyone will better appreciate each other.
The company must provide its employees with a list of universally acceptable behavior and a list of things that would offend a particular kind of people. This country specific list of values will ensure that proper behavior is observed at all times. For instance, Japanese people show courtesy by bowing. Some people might find bowing unusual. If they have information regarding this form of greeting, then, they won’t be surprised or irritated when greeted this way.
To increase the airline’s international reach, it may be useful to become a member of airline alliances.
To provide security to its crew, long-term contracts should be given. There should also be regularization of employees based on predetermined criteria.
Bassett-Jones, N. (June 2005). “Paradox of Diversity Management, Creativity and Innovation.”
Creativity and Innovation Management, Volume 14, Number 2.
Lee, H.-U., & Park, J.-H. (2006). “Top Team Diversity, Internationalization and the Mediating
Effect of International Alliances.” British Journal of Management, Volume 17, Number
3, pages 195-213.
Pae, P. (2008, March 14). “Emirates Airlines to offer nonstop service from L.A. to Dubai,” Los
Angeles Times. Retrieved April 13, 2008, from
Wayne, L. (2007, July 6). “A Flight Plan for the Long Haul,” The New York Times. Retrieved
April 13, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/business/06emirates.html?_r=1&oref=slogin