Big-bonus trend? 4 airlines, including Dubai's Emirates, offer employees weeks' worth of salaries

As the travel industry bounces back from the Covid-19 impact, companies are making an effort to give back to their heroes

By Web Desk

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Pilots, cabin crew and staff of Emirates. — File photo
Pilots, cabin crew and staff of Emirates. — File photo

Published: Thu 18 May 2023, 6:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 May 2023, 12:31 PM

Remember when airline employees lost their dream jobs as the Covid pandemic brought the travel industry to a standstill? That nightmare is clearly over as these same employees have started becoming the envy of the global workforce: Big, fat bonuses are being added to their salaries.

The year is yet reached the halfway point — but since the beginning of the year, four airlines have already announced that they are rewarding their hardworking staff with significant amounts of money, with some reaching millions.


All these four airlines wanted to show appreciation for their employees who stuck with them through the toughest times, which were mainly a result of pandemic repercussions.

When Covid struck, flights around the world were halted for several months. Now that the pandemic is over as a global emergency and travel is almost back to normal, the industry has bounced back stronger — with some airlines, like Dubai's Emirates, reporting record profits.


Here's how the four airlines honoured their staff:

1. 24-week salary bonus for Emirates' employees

After posting its highest-ever profit, Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates sent out a heart-felt letter from its group chair and CEO who reportedly wrote "they deserve every bit of the 24-week bonus which will be added to [their] May salary".

Yep, that's six months' worth of salary being given in one go. Every employee would be given the payout, which will vary depending on one's basic salary.

Emirates achieved a record annual profit of Dh10.9 billion in 2022-23, according to its annual report. This was a complete turnaround from the company’s loss position in the previous year.

2. 8 months' worth of salary for Singapore Airlines' staff

Reuters file
Reuters file

Singapore Airlines is rewarding its staff with payouts amounting to eight months' worth of their salaries.

These will reportedly be given in two parts: A profit-sharing bonus equivalent to 6.65 months of salary, and an extra package equivalent to 1.5 months of salary, in recognition of their work during the pandemic.

Like Emirates, the Singapore-based carrier successfully rebounded from losses, recording a profit of $2.16 billion for 2022.

3. 5.6% of annual pay as V-Day bonus for Delta employees

AP file photo
AP file photo

US-based Delta Air Lines made a similar announcement in January, and last Valentine's Day, its 90,000 employees got the sweetest payout amounting to 5.6 per cent of their annual pay.

"Delta people rose to the challenges of 2022, delivering industry-leading operational reliability and financial performance, and I'm looking forward to recognizing their achievements," Delta CEO Ed Bastian had said in the company's earnings report.

This wasn't the first for the airline, though. In fact, it had become some sort of a V-Day tradition since 2007. In 2019, the payout amounted to nearly two months of additional pay for each employee — but the Covid years that followed impacted the initiative.

This year's bonus was the first significant payout released since 2019.

4. Millions in bonuses for Southwest pilots

AP file photo
AP file photo

Bonuses worth a total of $45 million have been earmarked for the pilots of Southwest Airlines, according to reports last January.

The US carrier said the compensation was meant to express its "gratitude" for the pilots' hard work especially during a service meltdown amidst the travel rush at the end of last year.

Other employees, it added, would be getting additional pay, too, but no other details were provided.

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