Emirates leaves open lifelines as its cuts most passenger services

Daniel Fowler
March 23, 2020

The UAE-based worldwide airline, Emirates, which earlier said it would hold all passenger flights, promptly reversed its decision, adding that 13 destinations will be exempted.

"Additional examination and isolation arrangements will be taken later should flights resume in order to ensure the safety of passengers, air crews, and airport personnel and their protection from infection risks", the CAA said in a statement.

The airline has aimed to maintain passenger flights for as long as feasible to help travellers return home amidst an increasing number of travel bans, restrictions, and country lockdowns across the world.

The Dubai carrier said that it made the decision amid an "unprecedented crisis situation" in the world.

The United Arab Emirates suspended all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks over coronavirus fears - state news agency WAM said on Sunday (March 22) citing National Emergency and Crisis and the Civil Aviation Authority.

"The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak".

"We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services", said the airline's chairperson and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

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Emirates Group, which also operates an airport ground services company called dnata at locations around the world, had previously urged employees to take paid and unpaid leave.

A temporary reduction of basic salary for the majority of Emirates Group employees for three months, ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent.

"I feel uncertain for the future but at least we still have our jobs and are still getting paid", an employee said.

"We want to avoid cutting jobs", Sheikh Ahmed said.

"Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut, as we want to protect our workforce", Maktoum said.

Emirates posted profits in its most recent fiscal year of $237 million, down from $762 million the year before.

Just hours after announcing the initial decision, Emirates clarified in a statement that it will continue to operate flights to certain destinations "until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand". Emirates carried around 58 million passengers a year ago.

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