Dubai: Emirates focused on network recovery, COO says

Last updated on May 4, 2021 at 02.15 pm

Emirates will continue to focus on rebuilding its network for the remainder of this year, with a target of operating 70 per cent of its pre-Covid-19 capacity by the winter season, a top official has said.

Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2021) press conference, Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer of Emirates Airline, said that the airlines’ strict safety measures had helped it bounce back from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have a map for recovery for the future, especially with Expo 2020 Dubai going to happen this year,” he said. “When Dubai Airport shut down back in March last year, we did it for the right reason because we didn’t want the virus to spread, and we wanted to ensure that we were taking the right measures to protect our community and people.”

“When we recommenced our operations on May 9 last year, we had everything in place that gave people the assurance that they were looking for,” he added. “Since then, we have ramped up our network and today we are sitting with 120 destinations. So, we have managed to recover more than 85 per cent of our network from where we used to be during that time. We have also increased capacity and all our Boeing 777 in the fleet are operational. When we combine cargo with our passenger operations, we are going to over 130 destinations.”

Kazim also revealed that December 2020 and January 2021 were “peak times” for the airline, where “we had people coming in from all over the world.”

“As far as other measures that we have taken towards our recovery are concerned, we have given a full extension of the tickets of nearly three years,” he added. “This is a very unique step compared to many other airlines. We were also among the few airlines in the world that provided Covid-19 insurance for free, and we have refunded almost Dh9.8 billion to our customers, as per our latest figures. All this shows the confidence that we see in the future and which we want to give back to our customers.”

Kazim also described these past few months as an “interim” period while the airline sets out to rebuild its full network to the 157 passenger destinations that it had before the lockdown. The airline also has plans to operate around 40 of its Airbus A380s once the summer period starts. However, all these plans depend on what the situation is like with Covid-19 restrictions at various international destinations.

“From our end, all the proper safety procedures are in place, but we must be careful about any development that is happening,” Kazim said. “The protocols in different places are changing all the time and we have to stay ahead of them. The interest is there, we know that people are happy and eager to travel, but they want to do so safely.”

Rohma Sadaqat I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.