Emirates will retain flights to just 13 countries and territories after initially saying it would suspend all international flights for an indefinite length of time because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Dubai-based airline said it had decided to keep some limited service after it was approached by governments on Sunday who were keen to repatriate their citizens who would otherwise be stranded around the world.
“As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns,” explained Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the airline’s chairman and chief executive.
“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint,” he continued.
Most operations will be suspended by March 25, although the airline was keen to point out that cargo flights will continue as normal.
Emirates said passenger flights would continue to the following countries: UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada.
However, the airline warned the situation remained “dynamic” and service to these destinations could stop at very short notice.
Sheikh Maktoum said the airline was attempting to reduce costs by asking employees to take both unpaid and paid leave during this period. There will also be a reduction in basic wages of between 25 to 50 per cent for nearly every employee for three months.
“Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut as we want to protect our workforce and keep our talented and skilled people, as much as possible. We want to avoid cutting jobs. When demand picks up again, we also want to be able to quickly ramp up and resume services for our customers,” the airline explained.
Employees will continue to receive their allowances, while the most junior employees won’t be expected to take a pay cut.
“These are unprecedented times for the airline and travel industry, but we will get through it. Our business is taking a hit, but what matters in the long run is that we do the right thing for our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve,” Sheikh Ahmed continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.