Emirates Group plans to add 11,000 new staff in the coming year across its businesses including the airline, potentially boosting Dubai’s wider economy including its residential property market amid a slowdown in the sector and lower oil prices.

The company includes the air services provider dnata and its fast-growing carrier, which has been putting pressure on European and American rivals as it expands into new markets.

Emirates said that the new recruits will increase its head count by 6 per cent by March 2016.

About half of the new hires will be Dubai-based cabin crew for the airline, Emirates said. The carrier will add 20 aircraft to its fleet this year.

The group is also recruiting for flight operations, engineering, airport operations, commercial business development and corporate roles.

“Right now we have over 75,000 employees in Dubai and around the world. More than 12,000 of our employees have been with the group for over 10 years, and almost 3,000 have worked with us for over 20 years,” said Abdulaziz Al Ali, executive vice president for human resources at Emirates Airline and Group.

Media reported over the weekend that dnata is among a handful of investors keen on buying the UK unit of the Swiss travel agent Kuoni.

Dubai and its flag carrier Emirates are using the city’s strategic location to create a “connection hub” for flights between Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The airline currently operates the world’s biggest fleet of the Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger plane. It has more than 50 in operation and 140 on order.

“This announcement reflects the ongoing expansion of one of Dubai’s key sectors, particularly when it is compounded to the announcement that Dubai International Airport has become the world’s busiest airport,” said Carla Slim, the Middle East and North Africa economist at Standard Chartered bank.

Aviation has played a significant role in the growth of Dubai’s economy and the sector is expected to contribute 32 per cent to the emirate’s GDP by 2020, according to government estimates.

Last year the economy of the UAE grew by more than 4 per cent, and while this year it may be slowed by lower oil prices, economists say the part of the country’s GDP that is not heavily dependent on hydrocarbons to make money, including transport and tourism, will still flourish.

“Given that half of the new hires will be based in Dubai, this will contribute to the emirate’s growing population and expanding labour force. This is without a doubt positive for Dubai’s economy,” Ms Slim said.

Alan Robertson, chief executive of JLL in the Middle-East and North-Africa region said: “Expansion of employment results in additional demand for residential accommodation and additional economic activity for the shops and restaurants.

“Emirates and other [companies] increasing employee numbers is part of Dubai’s growth story.”

According to JLL, Dubai will add 22,000 residential units – villas and apartments – this year .

But the degree of impact from the new recruits on Dubai’s residential market is hard to quantify.

“It’s difficult to say how much is the Emirates demand in the residential market, because it depends on how much extra housing needs to be provided,” said Mr Robertson.

“Maybe Emirates already have employee housing available for its new staff. There could be flat-sharing or some in labour camps, which will have less impact,” he said.

Last month, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said Dubai home prices could fall by as much as 20 per cent this year on increased supply and weakening investor sentiment triggered by the tumbling price of oil.

The value of Dubai property transactions in 2014 fell 7.6 per cent compared with the previous year to Dh218 billion, according to Dubai Land Department data last month.

source: thenational.ae