I hear that Saudia withdrew medical insurance for pilots, that they have not paid medical bills and that the word 'negligence' figures high in the comments on the story. Long standy periods, short notice flights - all sorts of good things going on!
Looks like Saudia might be in trouble over this one. Any knowledge from any current or ex employees?
It is true that Saudia pilots do not have any medical insurance. For a while, they were insured with MedGulf, and so carried that Insurance card with them wherever they travelled. However, this was cancelled about 2 years ago. This insurance was not replaced with any other medical insurance, unless pilots paid for their own medical insurance. This is very wrong as the pilots fly all over the world and they should be medically insured by the Airline while they are on duty. In other instances, they have had to pay for their own medical bills when abroad and have then had to reclaim these expenses on return to Saudi Arabia. Although this should be a straight forward procedure, it very rarely is, and the Airline decides for itself how much it will reimburse. This is always less than the amount of the actual medical expenses. Within Kingdom, when collecting prescription drugs for crew or family, you frequently have to go to several hospitals in order to obtain the drugs. This is again because you will get to one hospital, and they refuse to supply the prescription because Saudia have not paid their bills. The health of the pilots - and their families - should not be at the mercy of whether of not Saudia have paid their bills. The airline should give them independent medical insurance which is honoured in whichever countries they have to operate. If this had been done, Capt. Mattar who tragically died while on duty would most probably have been ok. The medical practitioners involved were also at fault, but the main issue here is that Saudia does not take care of its own flight crew, who are responsible for hundreds of lives every day.
As an expat Saudia crewmember from the '70's thru 2005, I NEVER felt the airline would not support me, or my family, medically. They were always top notch, whether in Jeddah, in the Kingdom, or anywhere outside. That this could happen to a Saudi captain, of all people, is really a HUGE change. I'm glad my time is over...I think the good times for this airline, sadly, are over. Sam
If they treat "their own" this way what chance has an expat got? None!!
BTW, Never ever work abroad, without medical insurance for you and for family members, if accompanied. This of course should include medical evacuation to your home. This thread of course is a perfect illustration why it is a must.
They were always top notch, whether in Jeddah, in the Kingdom, or anywhere outside.
You have quite a selective memory recall, Sam. Forgotten, I expect, is the cancellation of the expat Travelers medical policy (premium not paid and no one informed) in the mid-eighties, and the misery this caused to some, who depended on this policy for serious medical/accident claims. The only thing that could be counted on at SV was...on time payment of salary. Anything else was a crap shoot.
I hear of 3 planes grounded in Cairo Wed night by crew in some sort of protest and up to 100 pilots demanding something be done about medical insurance by management who, the whisper says, will meet a single representative Friday.
Unprecedented - or have I got a selective memory - no offense Sam!
The Arab News is still running with this story - so far zero comment from Saudia or the government [big surprise there].
No doubt at some point the editor of the Arab News will be "leaned on" to kill the story.
The key to this one is that the system completely failed to protect or look after a Saudi Citizen [as opposed to the usual poor bastards from the sub-continent]; a government employee as well and a highly-trained one at that. I know the country is screwed-up but this really speaks volumes on how dysfunctional the country has become.
Sad situation. My medical contract was with BUPA and had regular contact with them to make sure that Saudia was paying the premiums.
On a similar note, though, I remember flying the 777 to LFPG. We were staying at the Meridian. I went to the front desk to check in and was told that we were no longer able to be provided with a room. When I questioned why, the reply was a very quiet....."the bill hasn't been paid for 6 months". So, after searching for a phone to call the station manager, 4 hours later we ended up at the Hilton, on the other side of the river at the Eifel Tower. That gig lasted for four months...same story.....
It is rumoured that the Saudia pilots (most probably only the Saudi ones!) are giving the airline 2 weeks to organise appropriate medical insurance. If none is in place by then, they will refuse to fly ... it is illegal to strike in Saudi Arabia, but this would not actually be a strike. Time will tell ... but so far there hasn't been any reassurance that medical insurance is being arranged!
In other areas of work in the private sector, expat Iqamas cannot be renewed without medical insurance, so all companies HAVE to insure their employees. But Saudia is not the private sector!