The Dubai-based airline Emirates is in the middle of an unprecedented two week shut down with nearly all of its aircraft parked up except for cargo operations and a few specially chartered repatriation flights. But until the Emirati authorities grounded flights to stem the rise of COVID-19 cases, Emirates was trying to fly to as many destinations as restrictions would allow.
Like many airlines, Emirates found itself trying to balance its operational needs with the health and safety of its staff, including cabin crew. For the first time in the company’s history, Emirates allowed cabin crew to wear face masks and even started routine COVID-19 testing of all its crew arriving in the UAE.
Those measures, however, weren’t good enough for some of the countries that Emirates was still flying to. A video has now emerged of a flight attendant being doused in disinfectant from head to toe by Hazmat-suited workers in an unidentified airport outside of the UAE.
Unsurprisingly, the video raised alarm amongst the Emirates cabin crew community because, unlike passengers, they had no choice about what flights they worked and had to subject themselves to these precautions or face disciplinary action.
At present, cabin crew are confined to their company-provided accommodation to comply with a national lockdown but even before these measures were enforced, Emirates was asking cabin crew to self-quarantine for 14-days between flights. Except, they could break the quarantine to operate another flight.
That also included occasions when crew still hadn’t received the results of their COVID-19 test according to sources with insider knowledge.
Yesterday, the government of Dubai, which fully owns Emirates, said it would inject additional equity into the airline to stave off a potential collapse. Crown Prince of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said Emirates was of “strategic importance” to the economy of Dubai. Further details of the bailout are yet to be released.
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.