Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has celebrated a record number of UAE national graduates from its award-winning Future Leaders programme.
The graduating class consisted of 280 UAE nationals including 86 cadet pilots; 82 technical engineers; 37 graduate managers; 13 airport operations managers; five sales managers; 53 Fursati Foundation Program graduates; and four graduates from the Sabre program.
The star performer awards for 2015 were presented to Mohammad Ali (cadet pilot); Khalifa Al Hosani (cadet pilot – Abu Dhabi University); Jasim Al Hammadi (technical engineer); Al Shaimaa Al Ameri (graduate manager); and Ameena Al Marzouqi (Fursati).
The graduation was attended by Hamad Al Shamsi, Vice Chairman of Etihad Airways Board; and Etihad Airways Board Members.
Hamad Al Shamsi and James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer delivered speeches at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
Hamad Al Shamsi said: "The UAE, our esteemed President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, along with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the Etihad Airways leadership, have together presented the graduates with a wonderful opportunity.
"It is an opportunity for them to go out and become leaders - leaders of this business and leaders of our great country."
Hogan said: "We offer our congratulations to the record number of Emirati men and women who have today graduated from the Etihad Airways future leaders program.
"The graduation ceremony marks a great moment in the graduates' careers, and as they celebrate with friends and family, they can each look forward to a fulfilling career with Etihad Airways.
"Etihad Airways continues to invest in the training and development of UAE nationals and these Future Leaders will go on to play a key part in the supporting the long-term development of the airline."
The five-year cadet pilot program consists of three and a half years academic studies in partnership with Abu Dhabi University and an eighteen months flight training at the Etihad Flight College in Al Ain.
The Etihad Airways' technical engineering program includes a Bachelor Degree program from the Higher Colleges of Technology, the Abu Dhabi Polytechnic Institute, or a specialised aircraft maintenance institute, followed by two years of practical training at Abu Dhabi Airport working on the most modern airplanes in the industry.
To start working as engineers, the trainees have to obtain an approved engineer's license from the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
The Graduate Management Program is a workplace learning program based on specialised functions including finance, information technology, global sales, airport operation, audit, human resource, revenue management and network planning.
The program is underpinned by internationally accredited qualifications and integrates classroom education with on-the-job training both in the UAE and across the network.
Upon completion of the program, graduates are deployed in various departments across the business and the airline's global network.
The 53 Fursati graduates join the airline in direct entry customer-facing ground service roles.
Fursati, operated in partnership with Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council, is looking to recruit more than 500 UAE nationals during the next two years for entry level positions within the airline.
Etihad Airways offers 22 Development Programs all of which allow UAE national graduates to develop key skills and gain practical experience which results in fast-tracked careers at the airline.
Etihad Airways employs more than 2,700 UAE nationals across its global business.
Emiratis are the number one nationality group amongst the total employees based in the UAE, and amongst employees at manager level, executive level and within Etihad Airways' pilot community.
Under plans to accelerate its employment of UAE nationals over the next five years, Etihad Airways is set to recruit more than 6,000 UAE nationals by 2020.