Middle East carrier Emirates is looking as if it will not resume regular flights until at least July. After initially suspending operations in March for two weeks, Emirates has been running a skeleton schedule. All flights have been solely to help repatriate citizens to and from the United Arab Emirates. The airline had planned to begin offering more regular flights before the end of May, but this has now been pushed until the 1st of July.
When the United Arab Emirates closed its borders on the 20th of March, Emirates was forced to suspend operations entirely. However, from the 6th of April, the airline began operations several flights a week to several destinations, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich, and Manila, to help stranded travelers return home.
The airline had planned to resume regular flights before the end of May. But due to continued travel restrictions around the world, the airline was forced to reconsider. According to schedule changes reported in Routesonline, the next scheduled flight available for booking is not until the 1st July. Some routes won’t restart until September.
Emirates is a truly global airline; every single one of its flights is international, so it relies heavily on borders being open. During the coronavirus era, domestic flights are benefitting airlines the most.
Emirates has also released updated information about the steps it is taking to protect staff and passengers. In a statement today, the airline confirmed that “all cabin crew, boarding agents and ground staff in direct contact with passengers will now don personal protective equipment,” including masks, gowns, gloves, and safety visors.
The airline has also followed the lead of several others in removing inflight magazines and other reading material to prevent the spread of germs. Carry-on items are also restricted to avoid bags touching. All passengers will be required to wear a mask and gloves from the moment they check-in until they disembark the plane.
Dubai airport has had marks added, which indicate the correct distance for passengers to remain apart while queueing at the airport. When on board, all passengers will be seated with at least one vacant seat between them and another passenger.
Emirates safety precautions will not only protect their staff members but should also encourage people to fly. Each aircraft will be thoroughly disinfected at Dubai airport after each journey. The cost and extra effort involved for each flight shows how desperately airlines want to get flying again.
Of course, Emirates is hoping that by taking health and safety seriously, it will be back in the sky with a somewhat regular schedule by July. This is optimistic, and it may be forced to push the date back again. With many countries talking about closing their borders for most of the summer period, Emirates is not in the best position
In a statement earlier this month, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates, acknowledged that “our network can only be restored with the easing of travel restrictions, and we maintain close contact with all authorities for latest updates.”
If this is true, then perhaps the airline didn’t just pluck the 1st of July out of the air. Maybe they have information that by then, travel restrictions will have eased. Or perhaps they are just very hopeful. Either way, many airlines around the world will be using Emirates’ decision to help inform their own choices.