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Etihad Airways highlights contribution of Emirati women
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 04 - 2016

ETIHAD Airways, the national airline of the UAE, is marking the 5th anniversary of the opening of its Al Ain Contact Centre by celebrating the achievements of its 160 Emirati female employees. One third of the center's employees are working mothers, reinforcing the airline's commitment to empowering women, and in particular UAE nationals, by providing a wide range of training and development opportunities to ensure they can pursue challenging and rewarding careers whilst upholding their social and cultural values.
The airline's contact centers in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Manchester serve a total of 40 markets. Last year, the Al Ain Contact Centre handled 17 percent of Etihad Airways' 3 million global phone calls for 14 countries, across three continents. The Al Ain Contact Centre generates revenue of more than $40 million annually and since the center's launch the volume of calls answered by agents has increased by 187 percent.
Opened in March 2011, the center began its operations with 85 highly qualified and fully trained Emirati women. By the end of 2012, the number of employees at the centre had increased by 150 per cent – and since then a further 30 Emirati women have joined.
Ali Al Shamsi, Etihad Airways' vice president - Emiratization strategy, said: "We envisaged a highly efficient contact center that would combine world class customer service with the highest level of Arabian hospitality. We are extremely proud of the service that our employees are providing to thousands of our guests every day.
"The center's 5th anniversary is the perfect opportunity for us to showcase and celebrate the immense talent of our Emirati female workforce, the important impact that they are having on our airline and the crucial role they are playing in the economic diversification of Al Ain."
All of the women employed at the center completed a series of rigorous assessments prior to being offered a position. On joining the company, employees were enrolled in several training programmes to further enhance their IT, English language and employability skills.
The center has also worked with Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group to find the brightest graduates and the Abu Dhabi Human Resources Authority (previously known as Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council) to source candidates from the ‘future of Al Ain' scheme.
Samia Barj, Etihad Airways' Al Ain Contact Centre Manager said: "I am extremely proud to be able to lead a team of inspirational Emirati women who are doing so much to strengthen our national identity and make a real impact within the company and in the city of Al Ain. It is due to their impressive capabilities that the centre is able to provide a superior service to hundreds of thousands of Etihad Airways' guests each year and I am confident that we will continue to exceed all expectations as we keep striving for excellence."
Etihad Airways is dedicated to providing a number of opportunities for its female employees to thrive in roles across the aviation industry with multiple options available for promotions. Since 2011, one third of internal agents have been promoted within Etihad Airways.
Dhabia Al Dhaheri, manager recruitment operations at Etihad Airways said: "I began working at the contact centre as a team leader in 2010 and since then I have progressed to this position. I am extremely grateful to the contact center for providing me with the skills and training opportunities that I needed to pursue a role in the wider airline industry. I am committed to inspiring more Emirati women to take on challenging roles across the company and I look forward to continuing to develop with the airline for many years to come."
Etihad Airways, Avianca sign codeshare partnership
Etihad Airways and Avianca, one of Latin America's leading airlines, have announced a new codeshare partnership. Under the agreement, Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY' code on Avianca operated flights between Bogota and London Heathrow and Madrid Barajas, while Avianca will place its ‘AV' code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and London and Madrid.
Additionally, from May 2016, members of the Etihad Guest program and Avianca's LifeMiles program will be able to earn miles on the codeshare flights, with a possibility of expanding the benefits at a later stage to include other destinations on both airlines' networks.
Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways' chief strategy and planning officer, said: "Avianca is one of the world's oldest and most experienced airlines. Its reputation for superior service, an extensive network spanning both the Americas and Europe makes it fully compatible for Etihad Airways' strategic plans to increase travel and customer benefits between the UAE and South America."
"The continued development and expansion of our partnership with the Avianca Group will give Etihad Airways unprecedented reach, facilitating its penetration in markets with greater commercial and tourism dynamics in Latin America, while promoting cultural and business relations between UAE and Colombia."
Hernán Rincón, Avianca's president, said: "At Avianca we are very pleased with this codeshare agreement, which will provide travelers in Latin America with more options to easily reach strategic destinations in the Middle East and to enjoy Etihad Airways' acclaimed service and hospitality. We are also very proud to open Avianca's wings to Etihad Airways' guests looking to travel to the many destinations we serve, and to enjoy superior service provided by our highly skilled and professional crews throughout every part of their journey with us."


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