Breaking: Emirates To Suspend Most Passenger Operations

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In another last-minute twist, news has just come in that Middle Eastern giant Emirates will NOT be going through with its decision to suspend all of its passenger operations by this Wednesday – March 25th. The flip-flop comes less than a day after it announced a long list of flight suspensions and cuts. The change in the decision was made after numerous governments lobbied the airline to maintain operations at a time when long-haul travel options have become incredibly scarce.

Emirates A380
The airline will aim to defer delivery of its remaining Airbus A380 superjumbos. Photo: Getty

According to CNBC, this is what the airline had to say in a statement:

“Having receiving 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, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada,”

An earlier false alarm

The initial message of complete closure came via Twitter earlier today. All passenger flights were to be suspended by March 25th – meaning that it would be carrying passengers for the next three days before stopping. Below is the original tweet, with the later back-track beneath it:

“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 6 weeks.” -HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group

The airline has been vigorously disinfecting its aircraft after every flight. Photo: Emirates

Cost reduction measures taken by Emirates

The airline’s parent company, Emirates Group has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs as revenue dries up. Actions include:

  • 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% to 50%. 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% 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. 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. -Sheikh Ahmed

Emirates A380
Emirates SkyCargo operations will continue despite the suspension of passenger flights. Photo: Getty

Decision would have left many passengers stranded

It’s quite possible that the earlier decision would have left many travelers stranded all around the world as they make attempts to return home. Already, we’ve heard countless stories of people unable to get home from their vacations, stranded in countries, having to pay for expensive accommodations.

However, it’s also very possible that due to the overwhelming number of travel restrictions, some passengers would not have been allowed entry at their destinations anyways. We’ve seen governments act extremely quickly and, in some cases, hastily – forcing aircraft in the air to return to their origins or divert to alternate airports. Recent cases involve a KLM aircraft headed to India, as well as Iberia and KLM aircraft being denied permission to land in Guayquil (Ecaudor) after having traveled hours over the Atlantic Ocean.

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Perhaps it is cases like those above that Emirates was trying to avoid for its own fleet.

Conclusion

“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,” Emirates CEO says.

Passengers booked on upcoming Emirates flights should be contacted by the airline regarding any changes. However, Simple Flying advises those flying with the airline to check the company’s website for further information. Additionally, there may be some actions passengers can take in managing their flight on the website’s “Manage Booking” section.

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