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Coronavirus impact: Emirates makes operational changes, steps up aircraft cleaning

Coronavirus impact: Emirates makes operational changes, steps up aircraft cleaning

The airline, which has been forced to cancel some flights, confirmed that it was offering staff the option of taking unpaid leave

Dubai airline Emirates has confirmed that it is taking several measures to deal with the business impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline said it has been forced to amend its operating schedule – by either reducing frequencies or cancelling flights to specific destinations due to travel restrictions imposed by some countries on entry for operating crew and passengers.

While the UAE cancelled all flights to China (except Beijing) early last month, Emirates also announced last week that it would stop flying visitors from over 20 countries to Saudi Arabia, in line with restrictions imposed by the kingdom.

Read: Emirates says travellers from over 20 countries will not be allowed to fly to Saudi

“The knock on effect of these operational changes has resulted in more resources than required in certain areas of the business for our day to day requirements,” said Adel Al Redha, COO, Emirates Airline.

He confirmed the news reports of the airline offering staff the option of taking unpaid leave.

“It has always been our aim to protect our workforce and limit the impact to their roles during a global crisis and through tough economic conditions. Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” he added.

Read: Dubai’s Emirates offers leave to staff as virus saps demand for travel

Al Redha also confirmed that Emirates activated its crisis management centre in January to closely monitor the situation and “take decisive action across all areas of our business”.

“These measures have included providing medical advice to our staff, implementation of practices at the airport to meet specific country travel requirements as well as adjusting our schedule and amending capacity to meet passenger demand across different regions.

“While we have seen some slowdown in certain markets there has been high demand in other areas,” he added.

The airline said it is liaising with international and local health organisations to follow medical guidelines and directives.

“As an additional measure we have stepped up aircraft cleaning, and in cases where we are alerted to any suspect or confirmed cases of infectious diseases, we will disinfect all cabins of those aircraft,” the COO said.

“This is a dynamic situation which we are managing carefully as a business, and we strongly urge our customers to practice good hand and health hygiene and follow the World Health Organisation and health authorities guidelines.

“We have been tested before and Emirates will come out stronger,” he added.

The coronavirus Covid-19 is continuing to spread globally, with more than 90,000 cases and over 3,100 deaths reported worldwide. A total of 74 countries outside mainland China have confirmed cases so far.

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