Dubai air carrier Emirates reportedly reversed its decision again to suspend all passenger flights on March 23, shortly after it said it would ground all its aircraft from March 25 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The world’s largest A380 operator stepped back from the initial announcement that it faced “government pressure” to halt operations. Instead, it said, that it will temporarily suspend most passenger flights in a statement also removing the initially cited reason.
“Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Emirates and dnata have been adapting operations in line with regulatory directives as well as travel demand,” the company’s statement mentioned on March 23. It further stated, "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, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada.”
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group 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 6 weeks.”
Al Maktoum further added saying that as a global network airline, Emirates finds itself in a situation where the air carrier cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-opened their borders. But by 25 March, although the company will still operate cargo flights that remain busy, Emirates will temporarily suspend most of its passenger operations, Al Maktoum said in a revised statement. The company has also added South Korea to the list of countries shortly after issuing the statement.
Emirates Group announced that it will not cut jobs, but will implement a temporary reduction in basic salary for the majority of its employees for three months, ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, as per the reports. The Dubai based airline withdrawing from the market means a significant hit to jet fuel demand in the region.