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Captain speaking: Etihad Airways en route to continuous growth and excellence

Captain speaking: Etihad Airways en route to continuous growth and excellence
6 Nov 2023 09:23

RASHA TABEELA (ABU DHABI) - The UAE’s national carrier, Etihad Airways, is marking its 20-year anniversary this month, celebrating the airline’s journey of growth, development, and accelerated achievements that have positioned it among the pantheon of top global and regional airlines.

Throughout its rich two-decade journey, Etihad Airways, from its very first flights, has opened its doors for Emirati talents, including pilots, engineers, and administrators, leading the journey of growth and excellence. This embodies the carrier’s strategy which focuses on nationalisation and attention to vital jobs in the aviation sector, including operational roles and those specific to pilots, engineers, and aircraft maintenance technicians.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Etihad Airways’ launch in November 2003, Aletihad met with a group of Emirati pilots and engineers who have been part of the journey of Etihad Airways from the beginning. These professionals spoke about their career paths and their pride in working as part of the Etihad Airways family, noting that they see a promising and sustainable future for the national carrier.

Captain of the Dreamliner

Captain Mohammed Al Tamimi, Head of the Boeing Aircraft Fleet at Etihad Airways, said: “My journey with Etihad Airways began in 2005, 18 years ago, when I joined as a first officer and then became a captain in 2012, leading my first flight on a Boeing 777.”

Al Tamimi elaborated on the milestones in his career journey. “I started with the Boeing 767 followed by the Boeing 777 and then the Boeing Dreamliner 787. In addition to piloting aircraft, I worked as a training manager for beginner pilots between 2012 and 2018, then I became the Manager of the Boeing Fleet, and today I am the Head of the Boeing Aircraft Fleet, having achieved more than 10,000 flight hours.”

He noted that in addition to his position as Head of the Boeing Aircraft Fleet, he continues to train pilots in the company and qualify them to become first officers and then aircraft commanders. Sharing his thoughts about working with Etihad Airways, Al Tamimi said: “My feelings are like any citizen who is proud of his country’s national carrier. I have witnessed the growth and development of Etihad Airways from the beginning.”

According to Al Tamimi, what distinguishes the UAE is that it is always a pioneer in its achievements and continues to grow and excel. “Etihad Airways always focuses its attention on development and growth, not only on the fleet and destinations but also on developing the national cadre.”

Al Tamimi recalled his first first flight with Etihad Airways. “My first flight with Etihad Airways was the company’s first international commercial flight to the Lebanese capital, Beirut, where at that time I was a first officer.”

“The feeling of leading the first flight with Etihad Airways was filled with passion, ambition, and pride.” Currently Al Tamimi works on organising the Boeing fleet, and helps in the airline’s training department. “We work with the Airbus department as one team; it is a complementary relationship,” he added.

13,000 Flight Hours

Captain Adel Al Zubaidi, head of the Airbus fleet, said that he joined Etihad Airways at the beginning of 2005 as a first officer on an Airbus 330 and became a captain in 2006, and later to become a captain of the giant Airbus A380. “My first flight was in 2005 as a first officer to Gatwick Airport in London. It was an indescribable feeling, and today I have achieved more than 13,000 flight hours.”

Reflecting on the national carrier’s 20th anniversary, Al Zubaidi said: “Within a few months after joining, the carrier began to develop significantly. The airline signed a huge deal to buy new aircraft and had a vast headquarters and worked on increasing its destinations continuously with the development of Abu Dhabi airport.”

Al Zubaidi noted that after becoming a captain in 2006, he contributed to training pilots on different models of Airbus aircraft. He was also part of the pilot recruitment department between 2008 and 2009. “I progressed to become the Director of the Airbus fleet, then Director of Pilot Support, then the Safety Department. After that, I obtained a master’s degree in Aviation Operations and Safety Management, and then I returned to assume the position of chief of the Airbus fleet,” he said.

“Etihad Airways is always ready for the future; it enjoys considerable attention from the leadership, in addition to the management’s attention and its keenness to adopt the best practices from opening new destinations, enhancing the fleet, keeping up with the latest technologies, and adopting sustainability in its operations,” he added.

UAE’s First Female Aviation Engineer

The first Emirati female aviation engineer Fatima Al Hammadi, who works as an aviation engineer at Etihad Airways, shared her memorable journey with the national carrier. “My beginning in the aviation field was in 2012, where I went through various stages from a trainee engineer to a specialist,” she said.

“The milestone that took a lot of time and effort from me was obtaining the specialised flying licence for the Airbus A320 type. The road was not easy, but facing challenges with determination and working diligently and excellently, and the continuous support of the leadership for women enabled us to achieve our ambition to reach administrative positions and our ability to bear responsibility,” Al Hammadi said.

She shared her passion for aviation engineering, along with her zeal for adventure. “I specialised in aviation engineering at the Higher Colleges of Technology and at the same time I joined the Etihad Airways programme for engineer training,” she said.

“I graduated in 2015 and we started the training journey for two years to obtain the initial engineering licence from the General Civil Aviation Authority, then I obtained the Airbus A320 engineering licence to become the first Emirati female engineer at Etihad Airways to obtain this licence.”

Al Hammadi also touched on the obstacles. “One of the biggest challenges is my work as a woman in a profession where men make up the majority, but I managed to prove myself as capable of working in all fields, and that I have endless ambition.”

As a witness to the growth of Etihad Airways for more than 10 years, she said: “Etihad always strives to update its aircraft and services. Its ability to face challenges, and its support for women to reach high administrative positions and work in all fields are unrivalled.”

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