Following stages of select flight cancellations, Emirates, the world’s largest airline by international traffic, has now announced the suspension of all passenger operations.
The extreme measure will take place from 25th March, responding to the rapid and ongoing spread of Covid-19 as the virus decimates the demand for international travel.
In a statement to media, Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum stated that the Dubai-based carrier will still operate cargo flights, but they have made the decision to temporarily put the brakes on all passenger operations. No end date has been announced, but Sheikh Ahmed has said that Emirates will “continue to watch the situation closely.”
The airline seems committed to maintain as many jobs as possible and has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs while market demand falls. The basic salary for the majority of Emirates Group employees has seen a temporary reduction for three months, ranging from 25% to 50%.
Employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time, and junior level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction. Admirably, the two 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.”
“These are unprecedented times for the airline and travel industry, but we will get through it. Our business is taking a hit, but what matters in the long run is that we do the right thing for our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve. With the support and unity that we have seen from our employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders, I’m confident that Emirates can tackle this challenge and come out stronger.”
UPDATE: While Emirates initially announced that they would be suspending all passenger flights, the carrier has seemed to relax the decision based on requests from government and passengers. According to a more recent press release, Emirates will continue to operate several routes to support the repatriation of travellers affected by border closures.
The routes to remain open from now include services to and from the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, U.S. and Canada. Before this decision, Emirates operated flights to 161 cities in 85 countries.
For up to date news on how Emirates is responding to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic click here.