Dubai airline Emirates has clarified that it will be suspending “most” of its passenger operations from Wednesday, March 25, due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The carrier had initially announced that all passenger flights would be stopped.
“Having received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to the following countries until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada. The situation remains dynamic, and travellers can check flight status on emirates.com,” a revised statement said.
The move comes amidst growing air travel restrictions imposed by countries to stop the spread of the virus.
“As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates Group.
“By Wednesday, March 25, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended most of its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services,” he said.
Emirates continues to maintain international air cargo links, deploying its fleet of 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods including medical supplies across the world.
However, dnata has also significantly reduced its operations, including temporarily shutting some offices across its international network, the statement said.
“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint. Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets. But Covid-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past six weeks,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“Emirates Group has a strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity, and we can, and will, with appropriate and timely action, survive through a prolonged period of reduced flight schedules, so that we are adequately prepared for the return to normality,” he added.
Cost reduction measures
* Postponing or cancelling discretionary expenditure
* A freeze on all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work
* Working with suppliers to find cost savings and efficiency
* Encouraging employees to take paid or unpaid leave in light of reduced flying capacity
* A temporary reduction of basic salary for the majority of Emirates Group employees for three months, ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. Employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time. Junior level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction
* Presidents of Emirates and dnata – Sir Tim Clark and Gary Chapman – will take a 100 per cent basic salary cut for three months
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 and keep our talented and skilled people, as much as possible. We want to avoid cutting jobs. When demand picks up again, we also want to be able to quickly ramp up and resume services for our customers.
“The Emirates Group has strong liquidity, with a healthy cash position but it is prudent that it take steps to reduce costs at this time. Emirates remains committed to serving its markets and looks forward to resuming a normal flight schedule as soon as that is permitted by the relevant authorities.”
He added: “These are unprecedented times for the airline and travel industry, but we will get through it. Our business is taking a hit, but what matters in the long run is that we do the right thing for our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve…I’m confident that Emirates can tackle this challenge and come out stronger.”