Emirates suspends all passenger flights

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) decided to suspend all passenger flights for Emirates — its national carrier and one of the world’s largest airlines but will still continue to allow cargo flights. The suspensions will take place by Wednesday, March 25.

So far the UAE has had limited issues with the global pandemic. Two people have died and there are only 153 confirmed cases.

But the country has imposed some strict limitations to keep the disease in check. For example, they have banned entry into their country, barred entry to residency visa holders for two weeks, and suspended work permit issuance.

So for an airline that depends on an extensive international flight network, those restrictions obviously presented insurmountable challenges for business to keep going for the moment.

Emirates has also taken measures to mitigate the economic consequences of these travel bans. Executives have decided to give up their salaries temporarily and many employees have a greed to take a pay cuts. 

Here’s a message from the CEO:

“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint. Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets. But COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past 6 weeks.”

“Emirates Group has a strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity, and we can, and will, with appropriate and timely action, survive through a prolonged period of reduced flight schedules, so that we are adequately prepared for the return to normality.”

— Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates Group

Some US airlines have come close to ceasing international flights or cancelled all of them but we have not seen a major US carrier suspend all flights. Some US airlines like Southwest and Alaska have extensive domestic flight networks so as long as there are no domestic travel bans (which have been discussed) then those airlines should still be able to operate with moderate cuts (Alaska Airlines cut capacity 15%) even during the current crisis we are going through.

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