By Gavin Gibbon
Sir Tim Clark told Virtual ATM webinar that he doesn't expect to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2023/24
Emirates airline president Sir Tim Clark believes the Dubai-based carrier will start returning to some sort of economic normality, in terms of passenger travel, by the middle of next year.
However, speaking at a Virtual ATM webinar session with aviation expert, John Strickland of JLS Consulting, Clark conceded that a return to pre-Covid business levels could be as far away as 2023 or even 2024.
While he conceded that the industry will rely heavily on some sort of vaccine being found for the virus, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 374,000 people worldwide.
"Eventually we’ll get over this, it’s probably just the next six-to-nine months where it’s going to be tough, Clark said.
“I believe once we’ve got everybody through the inoculation process, like we did with polio, with smallpox and everything else, we will start to see things coming back to normal. And that way, by the summer of next year, we will start to see an uptick, quite a large uptick, in demand for travel, both on the short-haul and for airlines like ourselves.”
Clark revealed that the airline can mobilise its fleet within a period of 48 hours and is monitoring the global situation on a 24/7 basis, looking at when countries are reopening borders, onboard protocols and quarantine procedures – passengers returning to Dubai must undergo a 14-day period of quarantine.
“I think probably by the year 22/23, 23/24 we will see things coming back to some degree of normality and Emirates will be operating its network as it was and hopefully as successfully as it was,” he said.
Emirates has seen the majority of its passenger services completely grounded since March 25, when movement restrictions were implemented across the UAE.
The carrier revealed on Sunday that the economic impact would result in an unspecified number of job losses.
Clark added on Monday: “We just can’t keep our employees doing nothing for so long so we’re going to have to let some of them go unfortunately.”
However, he believes that the industry will bounce back in time.
He added: “I’m not saying people have got short memories but they are anxious to get on with their lives, they’re anxious to enjoy their lives and they all have aspirations. They may be conditioned by difficulties of furloughs and not having enough money from salaries etc. That’s going to dampen demand in the short-term, but after that, once we’re well into 2021, then I think things will change.”