PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS), which is widely expected to announce job cuts this week as part of its "radical" restructuring plan, has resorted to bringing back cabin crew who opted for early retirement and those who had been "asked to leave", in a bid to address the shortage of crew for flights. A source in the airline said it has resorted to bringing these employees back on contract to address the shortfall, which has left flights easily short of one or two crew. MAS has seen some 186 crew resign between January and July this year, with a marked spike in numbers following the MH17 incident. In a statement to a business daily, however, MAS said the situation has normalised. The numbers add up to more than 200 crew lost this year, having taken into account those who perished with MH17 and yet to be found with MH370. According to the source, the remuneration for these employees differs from that of other cabin crew as in they are not paid a basic salary but accorded double the allowance and a fraction of the medical benefits the others enjoy. The move is on top of ongoing walk-in interviews being held since May. The last walk-in interview scheduled is to be held in Malacca on Sept 6. In July this year, MAS told staff it would be increasing cabin crew flying hours incentive allowance by RM2 an hour, covering some 3,500 crew members in a bid to retain its staff. A joint circular from its director of operations and director of human resources addressed to all its crew members dated July 1 was obtained by SunBiz. The rates of the payment for each hour flown are determined by cabin crew grades. For cabin crew in Grade 5, the rate is RM10; Grade S1, RM11; Grade S2, RM12; and Grade S3, RM13. One report said that the management of MAS has been rejecting requests for early retirement due to the shortage of cabin crew the airline is facing now. Malaysian Airline System Employees Union (Maseu) secretary-general Abdul Malek Ariff said there has been many resignations of cabin crew since the MH370 incident. "Cabin crew members are traumatised over the consecutive tragedies. Many are afraid to fly now," he said. Abdul Malek said some cabin crew are leaving to join other airlines, especially those in the Middle East. Following the resignations, there are only about 3,400 cabin crew left. He said efforts to replace those who have resigned have not been very successful as there have been few applicants. Abdul Malek said the union has also received many complaints from the crew about the working environment and conditions. "MAS is currently understaffed. Many of the remaining staff now have to work for up to 12 hours daily – eight hours compulsory and an additional four hours of overtime," he added. According to him, the cabin crew have complained that they were not given ample time to rest between flights and are feeling pressured. In a statement to theSun, Malaysian Airlines System Bhd admitted that there has been an increase in resignations. "Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels," it said. MAS said the total number of resignations from January to July this year is 186. "The resignation rate at Malaysia Airlines is less than 5%, which is way below the industry norm. Many have cited 'family pressure' as the reason for their resignation," it added.