Dubai’s Emirates airline plans to cut staff amid coronavirus crisis

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Emirates airlines plans to cut some of its staff in a bid to sustain its business operations in the face of the global downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson for the airline said on Sunday.

“The current pandemic has impacted many industries around the world and although we have endeavored to sustain the current family as is, we reviewed all possible scenarios in order to sustain our business operations, but have come to the conclusion that we unfortunately have to say goodbye to a few of the wonderful people that worked with us,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by the government of Dubai’s media office.


“We continuously are reassessing the situation and will have to adapt to this transitional period. We do not view this lightly, and the company is doing everything possible to protect jobs wherever we can. Where we are forced to take tough decisions we will treat people with fairness and respect. We will work with impacted employees to ensure they are looked after and taken care of with necessary means,” the spokesperson added.

In mid-May media reports had suggested that Emirates was planning to reduce its total number of employees by around 30 percent, and the airline was considering accelerating the retirement of its Airbus A380 fleet of aircraft. A spokesperson told Al Arabiya English at the time that no decision had been taken.

Flying limited amid pandemic

On Friday, Emirates enabled an option for customers to book flights out of Dubai to 16 destinations in 12 Arab countries, starting July 1.

The airline's website allowed booking flights to destinations in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan and Sudan.

However, the airline was keen to emphasize that while it is allowing bookings, the situation remains dynamic and could be subject to change.

“Currently some of our flights are available for booking starting 1 July, however the situation still remains dynamic and these flight services could be subject to change. We aim to provide our customers with as much notice as possible should there be any changes,” Emirates said in a statement to Al Arabiya English.

Flights out of the UAE were suspended on March 23 as officials moved to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. Etihad, Emirates and other Gulf airlines have been offering flights out of the UAE for those looking to return, but incoming flights are limited.

It is currently unclear when all government restrictions on passengers will lift. The UAE has temporarily banned visas on arrival for all nationalities and banned its citizens from traveling outside the country.

On April 29, Etihad Airways said that it would be delaying the return of regular passenger flights until June 16.

Earlier this month, Etihad and Emirates chiefs said that it could take three years for air travel demand to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Globally, airlines have been hit hard by the unprecedented shutdown of global travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The industry’s representative body, the IATA, said last month that domestic air traffic is down around 70 percent, with a recovery over the coming six months likely to be slow due to the economic fallout of the virus.

The IATA also predicts that airlines will lose around $314 billion in revenue from the coronavirus pandemic.

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