Emirates expects travel demand to pick up from May

Dubai - Dubai carrier now operates to 100 destinations compared to 140 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.



By Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 16 Feb 2021, 12:24 PM

Emirates airline now operates to 100 destinations around the world as compared to 140 cities prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and expects travel demand to pick up further from May, said a senior official.

Adel Ahmed Al Redha, chief operating officer at Emirates airline, said the airline is operating around 30 per cent of flights when compared to pre-Covid-19 period.

He said the airline recorded strong growth in passenger traffic of around 75-80 per cent during December 2020 and January 2021 compared to the first months of the pandemic last year, which confirms that people are willing to travel.

He pointed out that the airline’s fleet of Boeing aircraft is now 100 per cent working to serve passengers and cargo while 15 per cent of Airbus A380 is currently operating.

Commenting on the delivery of new aircraft orders from Boeing and Airbus, Al Redha added that the airline is discussing dates and schedules of deliveries with both the aircraft makers.

Freight revenues exceed expectation

Al Redha added that freight revenues exceed the airline’s expectations recently due to the increasing demand. The growth in freight demand is expected to continue till the end of this year, which prompted Emirates airline to convert 17 of its Boeing 777 passenger aircraft into freighters. However passenger travel revenues are fluctuations, depending on the measures taken by countries to overcome the pandemic.

Digital passport testing in April

Al Redha said Emirates airline will start testing digital passport from April and is currently collaborating with General Electronic in monitoring the logistics challenges facing the application.

He said many companies and countries will join the initiative to be launched by the International Air Transport Association (Iata). Digital passport will facilitate travel procedures for passengers, connecting travellers with airlines and health centres specialised in examination.

Recovery from May

While speaking to the Arabic media, he said the imposition of new restrictions in some countries on travellers led to a decline in demand in several destinations. But some countries have eased restrictions in terms of Covid-19 checks and travel requirements for travellers who have been vaccinated.

Al Redha said increase in the number of receiving Covid-19 vaccination around the world, better assessment of new Covid-19 strains, easing of entry restrictions by countries and expansion of digital passports that will make the travel smoother for passengers and boost confidence of passengers.

Al Redha noted that the demand for travel will rise from late May or early June as more destinations will open.

He noted that new Covid-19 strain forced some countries to impose new restrictions but the high level of vaccination by the UAE will contribute to increase in travel traffic and enhance visitor confidence in the local tourism market.

Al Redha confirmed that airlines’ revenues will drop due to the pandemic and closure of airspace by many countries for air traffic.

-waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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