Emirates says its full fleet of 123 A380s will be back by 2022 on the back of an expected sharp recovery in demand for air travel next year as coronavirus vaccines are distributed.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said that progress on the production and transportation of inoculations should be in full swing by the second quarter of next year.
“I can see demand for travel moving at pace,” Mr. Clark said.
“My own view, and it’s always an optimistic view, is by end of next calendar year or the first quarter of 2022 we’ll have all our A380s flying.”
Separately, Emirates has completed an intensive program to clear its backlog of refund requests which was caused by pandemic-related travel disruption.
Over the seven-month period starting April, Emirates received, validated, and processed nearly 1.7 million refund requests. This resulted in the airline returning AED 6.3 billion (US$1.71 billion) refunds to its customers. Of this sum, AED 4.7 billion was refunded to customers who had booked directly with the airline, and the remainder was returned via travel agencies.
In addition, Emirates managed over 130,000 refund-related queries from customers and travel agency partners and made status changes to nearly 4 million flight coupons.
At the peak of its project, Emirates had 110 personnel dedicated to validating and processing refunds, massively increased from the 19-person team pre-pandemic. The airline managed this by internally moving personnel from other functions to assist in this endeavor.
Sir Tim Clark, said: “In the early months of 2020, COVID-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refund requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates. It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from drastically reduced operations. Through those difficult months, as we dealt with the impact of the pandemic on our business, we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to our customers.
“Thanks to the efforts of our refunds and customer service teams, the support and co-operation of our partners, and the understanding of our customers, Emirates has now cleared our backlog of refunds. We still have higher volumes of refunds and flight coupon change requests compared to pre-pandemic times, but we now have the capability to manage these within a 7-day turnaround.”
The airline recently announced that it will offer its customers another industry-first: multi-risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover, at no charge, on all tickets purchased on or from 1 December 2020. In addition to COVID-19 medical cover, this new offer from Emirates also has provisions for personal accidents during travel, winter sports cover, loss of personal belongings, and trip disruptions due to unexpected air space closure, travel recommendations or advisories, similar to other multi-risk travel insurance products. More information here.