Emirates plans to reach 70 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity by the end of 2021 even as a slew of new travel restrictions weigh down the Dubai-based airline, its chief commercial officer Adnan Al Kazim says. The airline is betting on the successful rollout of vaccines in the United States, Europe and the UK to revive its business – something that Al Kazim says he is “optimistic” about.
“We already have a plan to get back to almost 70% of our capacity to be recovered by winter 2021,” Al Kazim told reporters at the Arabian Travel Market on Tuesday. “That’s an objective we have… and we’re committed to achieving, but again, many of these factors are determined by various governments,” he continued.
On Tuesday, the UAE’s national emergency committee extended a ban on flights from India following an explosive surge in COVID-19 infections in the country that has stretched India’s healthcare system to breaking point.
Authorities did not say when the ban would be lifted. India is traditionally one of Emirates’ most important markets for both direct and connecting passenger traffic.
Dubai is also subject to a travel ban by the United Kingdom – another important market for Emirates that has been cut off since late last year when the UAE was put on a high-risk ‘Red List’. The UK has not indicated when the travel ban might be lifted despite the UAE’s success in inoculating a large percentage of its population.
Al Kazim did not say what capacity Emirates was currently operating at but the airline is only operating between 30-40 of its massive Airbus A380 fleet due to a lack of demand.
Emirates has rebuilt its network to around 130 destinations and is heavily dependent on long-haul international travel.
By Joe Cusmano