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Emirates: Cancels (nearly) all flights from 25 March [UPDATED]

Emirates: Cancels (nearly) all flights from 25 March [UPDATED]

UPDATED: Introduction

After 90 minutes of the initial release, Emirates updated their statement on ‘The Emirates Group’s business response to COVID-19 from saying that they were cancelling all passenger flights to now saying that they:

“. . .will have [to] temporarily suspend most of its passenger operations.”

Emirates Statement 22 March UPDATED 7:30pm Dubai time. My emphasis

It goes on to outline where it will continue to fly. I have emboldened the named destinations

‘Having received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to the following countries and territories until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada. The situation remains dynamic, and travellers can check flight status on

Emirates Statement 22 March UPDATED 7:30pm Dubai time.

So Emirates will continue to fly to those destinations, but we should all note that ‘The situation remains dynamic, . . .

Given how dynamic things are, its unusual, but not outrageous that a major airline should soften its line in the space of 90 minutes. I bet someone is a little redfaced.

Oh, and they still haven’t answered my questions about what refund affected customers are entitled to – see the end of the story.

The original story is below.


I’ve been watching the Australian news tonight and thought that with many Australian states closing down non-essential services like pubs, clubs, casino’s, restaurants and cafe’s (for anything other than takeout), schools in some states, gyms etc, and only leaving supermarkets, bottleshops and pharmacies open, that my life as I know it, was coming to an end.

But then . . .

Emirates closes passenger flights indefinitely

Now I know its all-over-red-rover. Emirates is stopping flying passengers! They will continue flying cargo, but as of Wednesday 25 March, until further notice, all passenger flights are grounded due to the plummeting demand from passengers due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This is shocking, but on reflection, not surprising. The Emirates fleet consists of A380’s and B777 – all widebodied aircraft. It has been a tremendous advantage to have this kind of fleet consistency until no one is able to fly. Emirates can’t scale down like Qantas can to say flying A330’s internationally. They are stuck with these big fuck-off planes with huge capacity, which they can no longer fill.

a front entrance to a lounge
I guess the lounges won’t be open either

Summary of changes/reductions

  • Temporarily suspends passenger operations from 25 March
  • Retains cargo operations
  • DNATA to reduce operations, including some closures at some international locations with low demand
  • Salary reduction for the majority of employees for three months
  • No job cuts

These changes also support the multiple shutdowns of borders by myriad countries to stem the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

“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.”

“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 all its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services.”HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group

a plane flying in the sky

Cutting costs

Like all airlines, Emirates is initiating a range of measures to try and preserve its cost base:

  • Postponing or cancelling discretionary expenditure
  • A freeze on all non-essential recruitment and consultancy engagement
  • finding cost savings and efficiencies with its suppliers
  • Requesting employees to take paid or unpaid leave
  • Reducing the basic salary for the majority of Emirates Group employees for three months, ranging from 25% to 50%. Allowances will be maintained and junior employees won’t have their salaries cut.
  • Sir Tim Clark and Gary Chapman – will take a 100% basic salary cut for three months

The salary reduction is probably a better option than cutting salaries completely especially for those staff who have relocated to work for Emirates.

“The Emirates Group has strong liquidity, with a healthy cash position but it is prudent that it take steps to reduce costs at this time. Emirates remains committed to serving its markets and looks forward to resuming a normal flight schedule as soon as that is permitted by the relevant authorities.”

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group

What does this mean for customers already booked on Emirates

The media release is silent on this matter. I have forwarded the following questions to their media representative and will update this post with their responses once received:

  • The media release is silent on the impact on customers. What happens to those whose flights have been cancelled.
  • Will they get a full refund, or a refund inline with the purchase conditions of their fare?
  • How long will such refunds take to process?
  • What happens to fares purchased via other airlines, like Qantas?
a dark room with blue lights

2PAXfly Takeout

This is a momentous decision from one of, if not the largest airline in the world.

I also have a personal interest in the effect on passengers, as I am booked to fly with Emirates in June and July between Australia and Europe. I expected to have to cancel or change the flights but did not expect the flights to be cancelled by Emirates.

One for the history books. Let’s hope that ‘temporary’ turns out to be ‘short’.

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