By Gavin Gibbon
Dubai-based airline has been impacted by route closures as a result of the virus spread
Dubai-based carrier Emirates airline is closely monitoring the current spread of coronavirus across the globe and is implementing various actions across the business to mitigate the impact.
The airline has already asked staff members to take voluntary paid or unpaid leave as the effects of the virus on the aviation industry take hold.
Emirates has suspended all flights to China, except Beijing, while all flights to Iran have also been cancelled, as have flights to Saudi Arabia. Routes to Bahrain, Hong Kong and Singapore have also been impacted by the coronavirus.
Adel Al Redha, chief operating officer, Emirates airline, said: “The safety and health of our customers and employees is taken very seriously and we are continuously liaising with international and local health organisations to ensure we are following the most up-to-date 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.”
Al Redha revealed that the company’s crisis management centre has been fully activated since January to take decisive action across the 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,” said Al Redha. Although he added: “While we have seen some slowdown in certain markets there has been high demand in other areas.”
The current coronavirus crisis has cost Middle East airlines up to $100 million, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The IATA, which represents around 290 airlines, said on Monday that a forecast growth of 4.6 percent in passenger demand in the Middle East for this year is likely to be halved to just 2.3 percent, should conditions persist.
Al Redha added: “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 (WHO) and health authorities’ guidelines.”