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Emirates Asks Staff to Take Unpaid Leave for One Month at a Time, Cuts Flights as Coronavirus Spreads

Emirates Asks Staff to Take Unpaid Leave for One Month at a Time, Cuts Flights as Coronavirus Spreads

Emirates, the world’s largest international airline by passenger numbers said it would start asking staff members to take unpaid leave for one month at a time as the carrier cuts capacity across its route network in response to the global Coronavirus outbreak. In an internal memo, the airline said it had “additional” resources than were required after axing flights to a number of destinations.

“The knock-on effect of these operational changes has resulted in more resources than required in certain areas of the business for our day-to-day requirements,” the memo read.

Photo Credit: Emirates
Photo Credit: Emirates

For the time being, the option to take unpaid leave will be voluntary according to Adel al-Redha, the airline’s chief operations officer in the note sent to staffers on Tuesday.

Emirates has cancelled most of its flights to mainland China, apart of Beijing and has been forced to stop flying to both Bahrain and Iran. The airline has also reduced frequencies on a number of other routes after seeing passenger demand slump.

The airline, which is classed a super-connector with its hub in Dubai, has also been affected by travel restrictions imposed by a number of countries stopping some passengers from travelling.

However, al-Redha said the airline continued to see “high demand” in other areas – he did not specify what areas were continuing to perform well or whether those markets could also be impacted as the spread of the Coronavirus continues.

Emirates activated its emergency operations center in response to the outbreak back in January and says it is closely monitoring the developing situation. In his memo to staff, al-Redha said the airline was ready to take “decisive action” across “all areas of our business”.

“This is a dynamic situation which we are managing carefully as a business,” the memo continued. “We have been tested before and Emirates will come out stronger.”

In November, Emirates announced half-year profits of $235 million but even before the Coronavirus outbreak, it warned of “tough trading conditions” and “social-political uncertainty in many markets” that could impact its performance.

Emirates employs 100,000 people worldwide, including 4,000 pilots and 21,000 cabin crew who are all based in Dubai.

The UAE has not reported any new COVID-19 cases since February 27. At that time, the number of cases in the Gulf state stood at 19, the majority of whom had arrived in the country from China. Two hotels in Abu Dhabi have been placed in lockdown over fears that guests were infected with the virus but no cases have yet been confirmed.

Dubai is gearing up to host the World Expo 2020 later this year. Local authorities have not said whether the event may be postponed because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

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