Coronavirus: Emirates to add 50 destinations to network in June
Airline set to expand network as more countries ease travel restrictions.
Emirates airline is set to expand its network to 50 new destinations this month as more countries have eased travel restrictions, a senior official said.
Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer at Emirates, said the airline is confident of staging a strong comeback in coming weeks by opening more destinations and facilitating transit passengers. However, he made it clear that the recovery will be gradual and will take some time to achieve preCovid performance levels.
"June is a very important month for aviation in general and Emirates in particular as the airline is going to reopen more routes in coming days. We are in close touch with relevant authorities and governments and will share the details once conclude a deal," Al Redha told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai have commenced scheduled and special repatriation flights to around 30 destinations across Asia, Europe, Africa and the United States.
The Dubai-based carrier - the world's No.1 for international travel - resumed passenger flights to nine destinations across the world on May 21. The countries included the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the US, Canada and Australia.
The Middle East's largest carrier, which has a 100,000-strong staff and a fleet of 270 wide-bodied aircraft, will also offer connections in Dubai for customers travelling between the UK and Australia. In addition to the scheduled services, the airline will also continue to work closely with embassies and consulates to facilitate repatriation flights for visitors and residents wishing to return home.
"Covid-19 flight and travel restrictions remain in place across many countries around the world. But the situation is changing fast and more countries are going to ease travel restrictions this month and it will help revive trade, tourism, aviation and the economy," Al Redha said.
Last week, the International Air Transport Association said global airlines may lose $314 billion in 2020 revenues, a 55 per cent year-on-year decline, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves, and we hope to resume services as soon as conditions allow. This includes receiving government approvals, the easing of travel restrictions and commercial demand. We will announce more destinations in coming days once we conclude talks with the authorities concerned," he said.
Emirates has recently added 12 Arab countries to its schedule of passenger flights. Bookings can now be made for flights departing Dubai from July 1 to destinations including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan and Sudan. However, the airline has made it clear that this is subject to change, based on the dynamic travel situation.
The airline halted operations in late March as part of shutdowns to combat the spread of the pandemic. It reported a bumper 21 per cent rise in annual profits at Dh1.1 billion in March despite a 4 per cent decline in passengers at 56.2 million during fiscal year 2019-20.
Next 3 months are crucial
"Three months are very crucial for aviation markets as it will set the future direction as more countries will lift ban on international flights. Most of the countries will open their airports in June and July and the rest are expected in August," Al Redha said.
"We cannot live in lockdown forever. Aviation is a lifeline and key stakeholder of the economy. Like other industry players, we had no choice but to ground around 90 per cent of our fleet due to the coronavirus outbreak," he said.
To a question, he said Emirates is in talks to resume flight operations to India and Pakistan and will share details once anything is finalised
"Pakistan has already allowed international flights and we are finalising details with authorities concerned to resume services," he said.
Juwhra Salem, a Dubai-based economic and aviation specialist, said Emirates' announcement is an excellent step towards getting life back to what it is was pre-Covid-19.
"This is positive news that will have its impact on multiple sectors in the country, including tourism, all of which were severely impacted by this unprecedented situation in the past few months. This is also an indication of the country's readiness as well as its capabilities in dealing with the different Covid-19 ramifications," she said.
Safety remains top priority
To a question about, Covid-19 and safety measures introduced by the airline, Al Redha said Emirates is adopting every possible measure to protect its employees, passengers and communities.
"We provide all guests with a free hygiene kit. It contains a face mask, gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser. Travellers are advised to arrive at the airport four hours prior to departure," he added.
"We have implemented additional measures at the airport in coordination with the relevant authorities in respect to social distancing and sanitaation."
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