Coronavirus: Emirates Airlines temporarily suspends all passenger flights

The Emirates Group has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs, as the outlook for travel demand remains weak across markets

United Arab Emirates largest airline, the Emirates has temporarily suspended all passenger flights starting Wednesday this week amid coronavirus pandemic.

The Emirates Group has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs, as the outlook for travel demand remains weak across markets./Photo by Emirates Group.

Emirates Group however said in a statement that the Sky-Cargo operations will continue. That this decision was arrived at to pragmatically help the company preserve business viability and secure jobs worldwide, avoiding cuts.

The airline maintained passenger flights to help travellers return home amidst an increasing number of travel bans, restrictions, and country lock-downs across the world due to the global spread of the virus.

But now it will only continue with vital international air cargo links for economies and communities, deploying its fleet of 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods including medical supplies across the world.

With many of its airline customers dramatically reducing flights or ceasing services altogether, dnata has also significantly reduced its operations, including temporarily shutting some offices across its international network.

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 pandemic. 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.

Cost reduction measures

The Emirates Group has undertaken a series of measures to contain costs, as the outlook for travel demand remains weak across markets in the short to medium term. This includes:

  • A freeze on all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work
  • 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

On the decision to reduce basic salary, Sheikh Ahmed said: “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.”