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Sun 22 Mar 2020 05:50 PM

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Emirates airline to suspend most passenger flights from March 25

Emirates will continue to operate flights to the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada

Emirates airline to suspend most passenger flights from March 25

Emirates will continue to operate flights to airports in the UK, like Heathrow. The group’s airfield services firm Dnata will also significantly reduce its operations, including temporary closure of operations at some international locations where demand is low.

Emirates airline will suspend most of its passenger flights by March 25, but retain its cargo operations, the airline announced today.

The airline earlier announced that all flights would be suspended, but following requests from governments and customers regarding the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights a number of select countries until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand

Emirates will continue to operate flights to: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada. As the situation remains dynamic, Emirates said travellers should check flight status on its website emirates.com.

The group’s airfield services firm Dnata will also significantly reduce its operations, including temporary closure of operations at some international locations where demand is low.

The impact for staff is a basic salary reduction for majority of employees for three months -  but the airline insisted is will not cut jobs.

Emirates airline said since the outbreak of Covid-19, it 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 airline said its international air cargo links will remain in place, deploying its fleet of 11 Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods - including medical supplies - across the world.

Unprecedented crisis

“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group.

“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 6 weeks.”

He said, as a global airline, Emirates could not “viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns”.

“By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services,” he added.

Sheikh Ahmed said the group has a “strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity”, which meant that it could survive through a prolonged period of reduced flight schedules.

Cost reduction measures

The Emirates Group said it has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs, including:

  • 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

Salary

The majority of employees in Emirates Group will have a temporary reduction in salary for the next three months, ranging from 25% to 50%. Emirates said employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time. Junior level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction.

The airline revealed that Presidents of Emirates and Dnata – Sir Tim Clark and Gary Chapman – will take a 100% basic salary cut for three months

“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,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

“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.”

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