It’s only natural that as we’re all here working and occasionally socialising together that the question arises, ‘where are you working?’, ‘who are you working for?’, ‘What company do you work for?’, ‘who does your husband work for?’, whatever way it spills out into conversation the intention is not only to make polite conversation but to seek to understand a little about the day to life of your current company.
When for the third time in as many weeks, I meet someone who says they work on the ‘Emir Flight’ I begin to wonder just how many pilots the Emir has For clarification, the Emir is a royal title given to the chief in command, Qatar is a monarchy and the current Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, since his command in 2013 is the youngest reigning monarch in the world.
So I delved a little further into my enquiries regarding the Emir’s flight and guess what, it’s not a flight at all, it’s an Airline!, the world’s most luxurious airline never talked about. The Amiri Flight. The Qatari Royal family and Qatari Government officials, not only have the use of private jets at their service, they have an airline, complete with 14 aircrafts and reportedly 2 more on way but they are currently being fitted out to standards that I, having spent all my airtime in the economy class of economy airlines, can’t even imagine, however, I have watched some James Bond movies and upon those I base my assumptions that the interiors of these planes for royals are utterly decadent.
There are 70 pilots, all captains, on the payroll at Amiri Flight not to mention the flight attendants, cushion plumper’s and engineers make up the remainder of the staff which comes to the tidy number of 500.
What could one Royal family and a few government officials possibly need with all that, I did ponder, but it was then it was highlighted to me that each of royal family males and indeed non-royal males in Qatar are permitted to take up to 4 wives. Although the husband and his wives may be cousins, the family is constantly extending, particularly when they marry outside of the family (3rd or 4th cousins) thus widening the family circle and increasing the number of royals that are graced with the benefit of the use of their own private airline. And given that the current Emir, has only 2 wives and 7 children and that the former Emir had 24 children, one has to expect growth to the fleet and of course the associated staff over the coming years, after all the muscle of being allowed 4 wives would wither and die, were it not flexed.
As for the lives of the wives of the pilot, I suspected that having a husband employed as pilot for a private airline for a rich Arabian Sheikh would have associated benefits (note: having a wife employed as pilot for the monarch is not as issue, as they have never employed a woman to fly a plane, they do however ‘take women on’ as flight attendants, ‘a deferential personality’ being one of the requirements of the position, note again: one of the requirements for a Ryanair flight attendant is to be a good swimmer) however it would seem that the family life for the pilot is no glide, apart from 45 days off per year, they are on call 24/7, and only get a heads up on the climate of the destination, so when hubby leaves for 1 night in Antwerp, one week later he may not be back. Frustrating for the family but all very exciting and indeed clandestine for the pilot.
The more I read about the Amiri Flight the more I became enthralled, such an elite group, an elite company and probably equally elite salaries. And strange that there was an operation of this indulgent nature in a small country and that it doesn’t feature regularly and negatively in the newspapers or the news. After all if it was in Ireland, it would be a regular topic on every morning radio show and would surely snag a few headlines in the dailys. But then that’s the advantage that Qatar have, on top of owning a private airline – they own the media as well!.