Dubai-based Emirates Airline is optimistic of its business outlook in Malaysia and eyeing for more growth opportunities in the country, said country manager Mohammad Al Attar.
He said the international airline has recently increased its flight frequency between Kuala Lumpur and Dubai from its existing four-time to five-time weekly service when other airlines decided to ground their fleet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a steep decline in air travel demand due to coronavirus-related border restrictions, Emirates experienced quite a healthy growth in terms of cargo and passengers in Malaysia, he said.
“Even the situation (travel restriction) happened around the world, there is still need for people and cargo to move as the economy has to keep moving and people need to keep working.
“Nevertheless, we increased the frequency after taking into account market dynamic (in Malaysia) and its demand here that be passenger and cargo combination,” he told Bernama, citing cargo demand mostly for rubber gloves, e-commerce products and perishable shipments.
Mohammad said in line with other global airlines, Emirates was not spare from experiencing major adjustment in its global operations, including Malaysia.
He said before the COVID-19 outbreak, the airline had three flights a day with approximately 10,500 seats per week for KL-Dubai routes using two Airbus 380 and one Boeing 777.
During summer, the airline would increase that capacity to three A380 a day for the entire season to and from Malaysia.
“That shows how strong the demand is, however, due to COVID situation we are now operate five times flight with 1,500 seats per week with B777 as it is the most efficient size of aircraft,” he said.
To elevate confidence of flying during the pandemic, Mohammad said Emirates has implemented multi-faceted measures for employee and customer care at every step of the travel journey, redefining safety and hygiene standards on board and on the ground.
This include the contactless experience at the airport, airport staff and cabin crew dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as mask mandatory, he said.
Emirates has also introduced complimentary hygiene kits to be given to every passenger upon check-in at Dubai International Airport and on flights to Dubai.
These kits comprise of masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser. The hygiene kits supplement a slew of additional measures already introduced to keep customers safe.
On long-term plan for Malaysia, Mohammad said Emirates is always looking at all different places for growth and expansion across the network.
He said the airline was forced to pause its plan to launch a new daily service from Dubai to Penang International Airport (PIA), via Singapore, which was supposedly start in April.
He did not rule out the possibility to resume the plan when situation improved globally.
“Things are improving around the world with regards of optimism over the vaccine and better SOPs are in place, which reassure people to not only leaving the house but also taking that journey that they have been wanting for the last nine months.
“So right now our focus in Malaysia is to continue growing. We have already grown from four to five, so we are looking forward to more of that to happening throughput the year even next year,” he added.