Emirates Airlines, one of the leading international carriers, announced today it will cease almost all of its commercial flights beginning March 25 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group made the decision in a statement.
“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,” bin Saeed Al Maktoum said. “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.
“As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns. By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended most of its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow we will reinstate our services.”
Emirates has already taken steps to try to contain costs, including postponing or canceling discretionary expenditure, freezing non-essential recruitment and consultancy work, encouraging employees to take paid or unpaid leave in light of reduced flying capacity, and a temporary reduction of basic salary for the majority of Emirates Group employees for three months, ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent. Employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time. Junior-level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction.
“Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut as we want to protect our workforce and keep our talented and skilled people, as much as possible,” bin Saeed Al Maktoum. “We want to avoid cutting jobs. When demand picks up again, we also want to be able to quickly ramp up and resume services for our customers.”
He added that “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.”
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