COVID-19: Emirates recovers 90% lost ground

As Dubai opened earlier in 2020 during the pandemic, Emirates Airline started off by adding more destinations to its network, and today the national carrier is on the path of full recovery. Adil Al Ghaith, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Gulf Middle East and Central Asia for Emirates shares the success with TRAVTALK.

Shehara Rizly


Could you share about the destinations that have resumed flight operations from Dubai?

For Emirates, 2021 was an opportunity to considerably recover our network, fleet and operations, as travel restrictions began to ease. We restarted services to 17 more cities last year, and expanded our US footprint with a new destination – Miami – taking our passenger network to 128 destinations. We also boosted frequencies and capacity across our network, and expanded the list of destinations served by our A380 to 27.

What will be your strategy to restart the routes?

We have already recovered over 90 per cent of our pre-pandemic network, and have a few more routes that we
hope to restart this year, both eastbound and westbound.

Are there any new products introduced for passengers at present?

We are always introducing new products and services, both in the air and on the ground. One launch we are particularly excited about is the full rollout of our premium economy hard and soft product, which will be a an elevated experience that is truly in line with our ‘fly better’ proposition. On the ground, we continue to enhance our lounge offering for premium passengers, and we also recently introduced a newly upgraded unaccompanied minors facility offering a number of activities including video games, drinks and snacks, comfortable seating areas, free wi-fi, and washrooms designed for kids. We also continue to enhance the customer experience at the airport to make it even more frictionless, including biometric journeys and contactless technology, reducing contact and ensuring a safer on ground journey.

When will the premium economy class come in to effect and which destinations will you be looking at first?

Our premium economy product was introduced in late 2020 to much acclaim and positive feedback from our customers, and today it is currently available on six A380s flying to London Heathrow, Paris, New York and Frankfurt. We plan to retrofit 120 of our modern wide-body A380 and 777 aircraft with the Premium Economy product. The 18-month retrofit programme, scheduled to begin at the end of 2022, will be entirely conducted at Emirates’ Engineering Centre in Dubai.

Will you be introducing any new schemes for corporate travellers?

With countries easing their entry restrictions, business travel has begun accelerating, and for our corporate customers, we are closely looking at their evolving expectations of the travel experience and what matters to them today. We work hard to deliver a premium experience to sets us apart from our competition because in short – our customers notice.

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