Emirates is planning for a surge in passenger numbers with 450,000 passengers expected to pass through Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport (DXB) over the first two weekends of July alone. The majority of passengers will be passing through Emirates’ hub in Dubai with just 22 per cent expected to start their holidays in the emirate.
Emirates has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic because it relies heavily on long-haul connecting traffic and has no domestic network. The airline has, however, ambitious plans to restart flights to 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic network by the end of July and to reactivate as many as 30 of its grounded Airbus A380 aircraft.
But some of Emirates’ biggest markets remain largely off-limits. The UK added the United Arab Emirates to its travel ban ‘Red List’ earlier this year and in doing so cut off a lucrative source of passengers for the foreseeable future.
Most passengers from India are also barred from entering the UAE until mid-July at the earliest. There are similar bans in place for Nigeria and South Africa, as well as several other African countries.
Emirates has responded by increasing its presence in the United States but on Monday the State Department issued a Level 4 – Do Not Travel advisory for the UAE because there is “a very high level of COVID-19” in the country.
Dubai is banking on travel restrictions being eased in other countries, especially in Europe where increased vaccination is helping to ease tough travel rules. Despite some of the highest vaccination rates in the world, infections have remained stubbornly high in the UAE with an average of 2,000 new cases being reported each day.
Emirates says its booking numbers over the next few months have been boosted by leisure travellers, as well as passengers who are desperate to visit friends and family (VFR) after being separated through the pandemic.
There has also been an uptick in business travel although the airline didn’t say how much this segment had recovered compared to pre-pandemic levels.
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.