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Raises concern at Fiji’s national carrier Air Pacific

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 21, 2008) - United Arab Emirates (UAE) national airline, Emirates Airlines, aims to recruit a minimum of 60 skilled cabin crew workers from Fiji, it has been revealed.

Fijilive.com has also been able to establish that the airline could be recruiting as many as 150 crew members in this recruitment drive.

It has been confirmed that officials from Emirates Airline arrived into the country Monday to conduct interviews at the Sofitel Resort at Denarau, Nadi this weekend. And Fiji’s Transport Workers Union (TWU) is concerned that this could result in a massive migration of skilled workers, with the country's international airline Air Pacific standing to lose in respect of its highly skilled flight attendants.

Air Pacific currently employs a little over 300 flight attendants. Attempts are being made to obtain comments from Air Pacific’s chief executive officer and managing director John Campbell.

However, he told Fiji’s national television the airline would not stop its workers from applying for these jobs abroad.

Union secretary Kamlesh Kumar reasoned Air Pacific cabin crew workers were highly skilled given the kind of training they go through, in particular their ability to work on three different aircrafts -- Boeing 747, 767 and 737.

He told Fijilive that Air Pacific would be affected dramatically as there was a high chance of its cabin crew seriously considering these opportunities with offers of high salaries and better working conditions.

"These workers, once they take up these jobs, their pay will be around four folds of what they are currently paid," Kumar said. "This should be of great concern to us (Air Pacific and TWU) because Air Pacific will lose its workers and the union its members," he said.

Kumar said losing 60 skilled workers in one go was substantial, which could result in Air Pacific having to train more to be part of its cabin crew.

"And not only that, Emirates Airlines is now opening the window for other airlines to come in and recruit skilled cabin workers," he added.

Kumar said a few months ago, Australia’s Qantas airline was also considering opening its criteria for cabin crew workers and to recruit from outside Australia. He said it was time Fiji’s airline service providers re-looked at its pay structure and working conditions and to make it lucrative enough for these workers to stay back.

"There needs to be urgent changes brought about in this sector if we have to retain these skilled workers because no employers will want to lose their highly skilled workers," Kumar said.

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