Emirates bullish to return to pre-pandemic capacity by mid-2022

The Dubai-based airline is gradually adding extra capacity and frequency to destinations to match demand 

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pics courtesy of Emirates

EMIRATES Airline is hopeful to restore 70% capacity by the end of December as borders reopen and travel gets a fresh start. 

The Dubai-based airline currently flies to over 120 destinations and its A380 aircraft are now flying to over 27 destinations globally, with additional destinations being added where more capacity is needed. 

Emirates country manager for Malaysia Mohammad Al Attar said the Covid-19 impact on travel is the worst crisis the group has ever experienced and still has a long way to go before it gets back to profitability. 

We are still keeping our eye on the ball and look forward to resuming our pre-pandemic flight frequency in line with demand, Mohammad says

“We are doing all the right things to ensure this happens within the next year or so. As restrictions eased worldwide, we have been busy scaling up our operations and restoring our network, in addition to gradually adding extra capacity and frequency to destinations to match demand and provide a more seamless experience for our customers traveling to destinations in our global network. 

“We are still keeping our eye on the ball and look forward to resuming our pre-pandemic flight frequency in line with demand. With restrictions being eased for Malaysians and residents recently we believe there’s massive pent-up demand,” he told The Malaysian Reserve. 

Emirates resumed flights for passengers from Kuala Lumpur (KL) on June 17, 2020, after the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority’s lifted restrictions on transit passenger services. 

On July 1, 2020, Dubai officially opened for visitors again. In September, Emirates had five flights per week and now operates 11 weekly flights in light of more countries easing restrictions and quarantine requirements for passengers on arrival with vaccination drives reaching set targets. 

Malaysia Continues To Be An Important Market For Emirates

Mohammad said Emirates has been operating in Malaysia for 25 years and the objective remains the same as the group looks to maintain and grow load factors as it carefully analyses the market, its performance and needs, and seeks out more opportunities to further expand its presence. 

“We want to continue to positively contribute to the country’s tourism and business sectors. We do this through new route launches, and resumption of routes since the pandemic, linking the country to other economies and opening opportunities. 

“Capacity enhancements and innovative offerings also provide opportunities for growth, including the tourism sector. Since the start of our operations to KL in 1996, we have carried 8.95 million passengers to and from Malaysia,” he added. 

Outlook Amid The Omicron Variant

Mohammad said Emirates continues to work closely with governments and authorities during these unprecedented times to ensure the health and safety of customers, crew and staff is never compromised, using as many contactless technology solutions as possible for a seamless on the ground and onboard experience. 

He said the Covid-19 crisis offered not just Emirates, but the industry, an opportunity to foster more efficiency and resilience to respond better to near and long-term challenges, including restoring travellers’ confidence and more efficient air connectivity. 

“For Emirates, post-pandemic operations that help support the rebound of air travel include harnessing more technology and digital solutions that enable us to plan and align our resources to passenger and cargo demand, in turn optimising our operations.

“Alongside optimising and supporting operational activities, we are continuously looking at business continuity activities as well as different ways to reduce our costs, enforcing fiscal discipline across the board, revenue management and smart network planning, among other initiatives,” he said. 

Cargo To Be An Important Business Going Forward

Recently at the Dubai Airshow, Emirates SkyCargo announced the addition of two new Boeing 777Fs into the fleet in 2022 for Emirates SkyCargo to meet long-term cargo capabilities and the conversion of four Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft into full freighters, starting in early 2023. 

Mohammad said Emirates SkyCargo has been facilitating the movement of essential commodities especially from Malaysia with the country’s export of gloves expected to go up to 225 billion units this year. 

Besides personal protective equipment, the flights also help export electronics, fruits and other perishable items from Malaysia, while importing pharmaceutical products, fashion — clothing and accessories — seafood and other perishables, spare parts, machinery and other goods into the country. 

“By using a modified aircraft cabin with passenger seats removed in Economy Class, we were able to increase our capacity on the passenger freighters. We were able to uplift high cargo volumes, including 11,400 tonnes from April 2020 till date versus 6,930 tonnes in the financial year 2020 and 2021 (FY20/21) in exports, and 7,670 tonnes for the same period versus 4,700 tonnes in FY20/21 for imports into Malaysia,” he added, 

Since October 2020, Emirates SkyCargo has delivered 600 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, about 2,800 tonnes from 35 origins to over 80 destinations. 

In October and November 2021 alone, Emirates SkyCargo moved more than 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, almost one third of the total Covid-19 vaccines transported by the carrier since the start of the pandemic. The carrier has transported six different kinds of Covid-19 vaccines. 

Emirates To Elevate Confidence of Flying During The Pandemic

The airline has introduced comprehensive set of safety measures and was the first to implement the International Air Transport Association Travel Pass across six continents and the world’s first complete biometric journey, which now includes over 30 biometric cameras in active operation at the Dubai airport hub, from check-in counters, to the entrances of the First and Business Class lounges and at select boarding gates. 

The airline also introduced the option of self-check-in and bag drop kiosks for all customers, with six stations in its First and Business Class check-in area, and 24 in the Economy Class check-in area at the Dubai International Airport. 

“In addition to this, onboard, customers have the option to use their devices to view menus and the ability to sync the in-flight entertainment playlist with their personal device through the Emirates app. 

“To also address travellers’ ever-changing needs during this unprecedented time and provide greater peace and comfort, we provide generous and flexible booking policies which have been extended to May 2022,” he concluded.