As the main carrier in Dubai, Emirates has been the backbone of the travel industry. Its unstinted service excellence was seen during the pandemic. Adil Al Ghaith, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Gulf, Middle East and Central Asia shares with Shehara Rizly the recipe of success.
Could you share an update about how the opening of borders and easing of restrictions impacted resumption of operations?
The reopening of borders and a wave of travel restrictions easing in countries across our network have helped accelerate what was already there – tremendous pent-up demand for air travel. Traffic across all consumer segments, including premium leisure, VFR and business and corporate travel, continues to grow with a surge in bookings every time restrictions are lifted. Of course, there are still markets that lag behind, like a number of countries in the Far East, and recovery continues to be patchy there, however, overall we are already experiencing a boom. With confidence to travel again, we are looking forward to a robust summer season at Emirates.
There was a partnership signed between Travelport and Emirates, could you share more details on what it entails?
Our partnership with Travelport delivers several benefits to the travel community. First, it enables travel agencies using the Travelport GDS platform to access Emirates’ content without incurring any additional surcharges. For Emirates, it strengthens our position as the airline of choice for agencies that use the Travelport GDS, and empowers them to offer better and more personalised offers to travellers, who want to tap into our extensive network of destinations.
Premium economy is a product which was revealed, in which destinations will you introduce this class and what will be your expectations over the year?
Our premium economy product was introduced in late 2020 with rave reviews and positive feedback from customers, and today we offer it on six A380s flying to London Heathrow, Paris, New York and Frankfurt. We hope to be able to deploy these aircraft to other major cities within our network. So watch this space for more updates.
What will you showcase this year at ATM?
We will definitely be focusing on our premium economy product again this year, and hope to introduce some additional propositions around this unique cabin to the industry. We are also working to tie up with and cultivate strategic partnerships with stakeholders across the travel eco-system to ensure we continue to support industry-wide recovery.
One of the key issues faced was cancellations and rescheduling of bookings, could you share how at Emirates it was dealt with to make it easier for the customer?
We are seeing less cancellations and rescheduling given high demand across our network, however throughout the pandemic as we operated through uncertainty we kept customers at the heart of everything we did, by prioritising choice and flexibility to help them make the most of the changes that came their way.
Travel agents play a key role when it comes to bookings, how will you incentivise them and work together?
Travel agents are an important part of our business, and they continuously add value when promoting Emirates directly to a motivated audience of travelers, helping to personalise their trips with us through our rich products and services on offer. We continue to work hard and nurture the relationships that we have built with our trade partners through the years.
Kiosks and check-in ports were introduced recently to make it a seamless experience for the customer, could you share how you intend on tapping all other touchpoints?
Along with our biometric path and touchless check-in kiosks, we recently introduced 25 mobile check-in ports at Dubai International airport Terminal 3, and these portable units will be deployed throughout the check-in halls across Terminal 3 at DXB. We will continue to roll out cutting-edge technologies like biometrics, AI and robotics across our operational and customer touchpoints to ensure a touchless and seamless experience on the ground, and will be making announcements in the near future around changes to elevate the passenger journey.
Summer is just around the corner, will there be new services to those most visited destinations?
We just announced a ramp up of our global network this summer and until the end of the year with the restart of services to four destinations, including Bali (1 May), London Stansted (1 August), Rio de Janeiro (2 November), and Buenos Aires (2 November). We are also boosting services and directing capacity to key cities across our network where we see strong travel demand, including Nigeria, Mauritius and Singapore. There will be more to come as we get closer to fully restoring our pre-pandemic network and uplifting capacity in cities where we see strategic opportunities to bolster our presence.
Malaysia and Indonesia announced border openings, when will the flights start?
In Malaysia, we restarted flights to Kuala Lumpur in June 2020, and in line with easing of travel restrictions and increasing travel demand, we have progressively grown our services and today fly there 11 times a week. With the full reopening of Malaysian borders on April 1, Emirates anticipates higher demand from travellers, who are eager to reconnect with loved ones as well as to discover the world, given that this has not been possible for the past two years.
We have been operating services to Jakarta since April 2020, and since then we have grown our services to double daily flights and will also be restarting Bali in a few weeks’ time, which we anticipate tremendous demand for, as it becomes accessible for tourists around the world.
Israel is a new route announced to be opened in June, what will be your expectations from this market? Will it be to Dubai or beyond as connector flights?
We are excited about Tel Aviv, which we are set to launch on 23 June. We anticipate strong demand between Dubai and Tel Aviv at the beginning. From Tel Aviv, we anticipate strong demand potential for Thailand, India, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, and into Tel Aviv, we are already seeing strong bookings from Brazil, India, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and the Philippines, with many of these markets being home to large Jewish communities. We have tailored our flight schedules to ensure the best connections through Dubai for a seamless customer experience.