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Emirates airline optimistic about steep recovery after COVID-19 vaccine

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, December 18, 2020  /  04:15 pm
Emirates airline optimistic about steep recovery after COVID-19 vaccine

Emirates airline has made various efforts to anticipate the COVID-19 crisis, such as by launching its COVID-19 cover initiative and multi-risk travel insurance. (Emirates/File)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are seen as a ray of hope for individuals and businesses.

In tourism and the aviation industry, the outbreak has caused airlines to temporarily halt their operations and countries to implement international travel restrictions. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that the global industry will lose US$252 billion in 2020.

In November, travel website TripAdvisor and global travel market research Phocuswright released a traveler trends joint report on 2020, showing travelers’ tendencies to explore local destinations in this challenging time. The report said that it was “highly unlikely” that markets would shift from the domestic to the international phase of recovery until vaccines are widely accessible.

Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, is also pinning its hopes on vaccines. The Dubai-based carrier reported a loss of $3.4 billion in the first half of the 2020-2021 financial year compared with last year’s $235 million, citing international travel restrictions as the cause. The airline, which carried 1.5 million passengers from April 1 to Sept. 30, also saw its revenue decline by 75 percent to $3.2 billion compared with $12.9 billion during the same period last year.

Emirates temporarily halted flights in March and has gradually reopened its routes, including six flights per week to Indonesia. The airline will resume its flights to Istanbul starting from Dec. 21, increasing its European network to 31 destinations.

“No one can predict the future, but we expect a steep recovery in travel demand once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, and we’re readying ourselves to serve that rebound,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and group, said in a statement. He also expressed gratitude to customers and stakeholders for their support.

Emirates has made various efforts to anticipate the situation. The Gulf carrier is said to be the first in the industry to cover its passengers’ COVID-19-related medical expenses and quarantine costs for free to boost travel confidence.

Country manager of Emirates Indonesia Abdalla Al Zamani said that the initiative was warmly received by customers. “We received very positive feedback from our customers and the industry at large,” Al Zamani told The Jakarta Post on Nov. 26.

The airline then expanded its COVID-19 cover initiative by announcing multi-risk travel insurance for customers who bought tickets from Dec. 1. The insurance includes up to $500,000 for overseas medical expenses as well as emergency evacuation and up to $7,500 for trip cancellation if a traveler is unable to fly as a result of being diagnosed with COVID-19.

In November, the airline was named the world’s safest airline by Travel Safe Barometer, a platform that provides a database of COVID-19 health and safety protocols in tourism and the hospitality industry. Emirates topped the list out of over 230 airlines based on an independent audit of 26 health and safety parameters.

Al Zamani said that it had collaborated with international and local authorities to get the latest pandemic-related guidelines, especially in this dynamic and ever-changing situation.

He continued that the airline also worked closely with stakeholders in Dubai, starting from the government to the tourism board to facilitate visitors’ re-entry to Dubai. When asked about target visitors, he said that it was “challenging to expect a number now”. “It’s totally a new landscape. We’re not sure yet how the market will react, but we’re very optimistic with the vaccine. We are expecting that there will be a steep recovery in travel demand,” Al Zamani said.

As for the airline’s Indonesian network, he said that it was working closely with tourism bodies and authorities to promote its Indonesian routes and flights.

“We’re monitoring the situation and gradually reconstructing our network to return to the pre-pandemic level,” Al Zamani said. (wng)

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