As a pioneer in the industry, Emirates adapted quickly to meet the needs of the changing environment by ramping up its SkyCargo network, supporting repatriation flights, implementing a comprehensive set of safety measures including the distribution of hygiene kits, and introducing free, global COVID-19 cover for medical expenses -an industry-first. Jabr Al-Azeeby, Vice President India & Nepal, Emirates, shares how they continue to focus on being customer-oriented to provide even more connectivity and value for their patrons.
– Prashant Nayak
Emirates looks forward to resuming passenger services to India as soon as conditions allow. In the meantime, they continue to support repatriation movements to the country by facilitating travel for stranded Indians who wish to return home.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic has hit the travel and aviation industry hard. As international borders gradually re-open, travel restrictions ease and businesses and industries learn to adjust – we are optimistic economies will recover and this will bring stability for travel demand to return. For now, we remain focused on restoring passenger operations, keeping the safety of our customers, our people, and our communities as the top priority. We are proud to lead the way in boosting confidence for international travel, by providing customers with the assurance needed to fly safer and better. We have implemented various measures in the air and on-ground including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to all customers,” assures Al-Azeeby.
Emirates was also the first airline to introduce free, global cover for COVID-19 related costs, should passengers be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travels. They also revised their booking policies to offer passengers more flexibility, choice and confidence when planning their travels.
To be successful post-crisis, the airline’s strategy has always been built on being innovative and placing customers at the heart of everything they do. They are confident of their business model and with Dubai as their hub; their proposition is as strong as ever. Dubai was one of the world’s first cities to obtain the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.
Al-Azeeby shares more, “Emirates will continue to lead the way in the aviation industry with superior products, service, comfort and network. Customers can currently travel to more than 95 destinations via Dubai within the airline’s growing network. We will continue to innovate and invest in our products and services to provide customers with a safe and unmatched travel experience in the air and on-ground. We also recently introduced Emirates Gateway, available via the recently launched Emirates Portal (a one-stop-shop for travel industry partners to quickly and securely access the full range of information on Emirates’ latest products, services and policies) – offering our trade partners the ability to enhance travellers’ journeys with customized products and services.”
Al-Azeeby feels that the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry has been unprecedented and travel has drastically changed since March. However, this has paved opportunities to innovate and create a more resilient industry. Enhanced health and safety initiatives will remain in place post-pandemic and ‘touchless’ interactions will increase. “For us, we will continue to invest in our products and services to provide customers with a safe and unmatched travel experience. We recently introduced fully self-serviced, check-in and bag drop kiosks in Dubai International Airport, allowing customers to check-in, receive their boarding pass, choose seats on board, and drop off their bags. While the service is currently not available for passengers travelling to India – more self-service and ‘touchless’ facilities are planned to be added in the coming month,” adds Al-Azeeby.
The global pandemic also led Emirates to innovate in the way they operate cargo-only flights on passenger aircraft, in addition to dedicated freighters and belly-hold cargo on passenger flights. They also modified 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to carry more cargo. In India, Emirates SkyCargo operated scheduled freighter services and several chartered flights to nine cities, to ensure an adequate flow of vital commodities such as pharmaceutical products and perishables.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but we are all learning to cope with it. However, we remain committed to serving our customers and we hope to resume our full complement of services and destinations as quickly and safely as the situation allows,” concludes Al-Azeeby.