Emirates sees travel picking up in summer as markets reopen

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on May 17, 2021
Sheikh Ahmed said the UAE government is talking to the UK about its inclusion in the green list. — Photo by M. Sajjad

Air traffic will pick up during the summer as more countries will open up their doors closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Air traffic will pick up during the summer as more countries will open up their doors closed due to Covid-19 pandemic, said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chiarman of Emirates airline and Chief Executive of Emirates Group.

“Markets will open in the next next months from now and the summer traffic is really coming up firmly. I am optimistic about the summer. People who haven’t been out of their locations for a year and half, want to travel now,” Sheikh Ahmed said on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market 2021 on Monday.

“If the countries are opening up, we will see a faster rebound in terms of traffic. We have seen that to the UK, Russia, Maldives and Seychelles corridors when they reopened,” he added.

“We have to remain optimistic. When the markets open, traffic will come and we will see this in the next six months. But we’ll not reach pre-pandemic numbers in the next six months as it will take much longer,” Sheikh Ahmed told media during the briefing.

He said 2020-21 fiscal year has been tough for all the airlines of Emirates size due to lockdowns and people not flying during the pandemic.

Commenting on further financial support requirement from the Dubai government, he said the airline will look at how this year fares, how the markets open up and situation around cash-flow prior before taking any decision to seek further support.

Emirates had received Dh7.3 billion ($2 billion) from the government of Dubai last year to overcome the credit crunch.

Due to prevalent market situation, Emirates is reassessing its aircraft delivery schedule.

“Emirates is reassessing its plan of delivery requirements of what should be pushed back because we have to deal with the market that is really shifting back and forth. So it is not really not accurate numbers at this time,” he said.

In addition, the airline is also considering swapping some of its Boeing 777X on order with the smaller 787 Dreamliners due to delays in the launch of new aircraft.

UK, India network

Sheikh Ahmed said the UAE government is talking to the UK about its inclusion in the green list.

“I am optimistic that UAE will be added to UK’s green list soon. I’'s unfair as there are more than 150,000 British citizens live here… The two governments are talking about it and sharing information,” he added.

Replying to a query about lifting of restrictions imposed by the UAE on passengers from the Indian Subcontinent, Sheikh Ahmed said it depends on the how governments handle the Covid-19 situation.

“We can’t fix a date. Markets are opening and closing with restrictions being lifted. We are always for vaccinating the people around the world and easing travel restrictions as this is how the world will move forward,” he added.

“It is very really sad to see what is happening in the second wave of Covid-19 in India because India is one of our first points of operations and we enjoyed good traffic between the two countries in terms of goods and people. We are doing what is possible as an airline by carrying aid for NGOs free of cost,” he added.

Sheikh Ahmed stressed that making vaccine mandatory is a government’s prerogative but stressed that it’s important for the safety and revival of the industry.

He said an app that is easy to carry to pass through airports is need of the hour.

“If you’re vaccinated it is always good for you and others. I think people should take opportunity to vaccinate themselves if it is available in their country, where they are.”

Sheikh Ahmed sees Emirates to be working closer with flydubai but will keep the two brands separate.

— waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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