Emirates adjusts schedule and route capacity as coronavirus impacts demand

Dubai airline said it sees 'slowdown' in some markets and 'high demand' in other areas

FILE PHOTO: An Emirates Airline Boeing 777-300ER plane lands at the Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo
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Emirates is adjusting its flights schedule and capacity on certain routes across different regions in response to changing passenger demand as governments step up measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The world's biggest airline by long-haul traffic said it had to amend its operating schedule to reduce flight frequencies or cancel routes to specific destinations in response to travel restrictions imposed by some countries barring the entry of crew and passengers.

"While we have seen some slowdown in certain markets there has been high demand in other areas," Adel Al Redha, Emirates' chief operating officer, said on Tuesday.

The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak surpassed 3,100 as of Tuesday, with the number of confirmed cases surging past 90,000. Governments around the world are taking various measures to fight the spread of the virus that originated in China and spread rapidly to more than 50 countries. Airlines have suspended or reduced flights to China, Iran and other nations most affected by the virus in response to government directives and lower demand.

As a result, Emirates – like many other global airlines – is offering its employees the option to take leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to a month at a time.

"The knock-on-effect of these operational changes has resulted in more resources than required in certain areas of the business for our day-to-day requirements," Mr Redha said.

The Dubai airline has activated its Crisis Management Centre since January to closely monitor the situation and take "decisive action" across all areas of business, said Emirates.

"This is a dynamic situation which we are managing carefully as a business," Mr Al Redha said. "We have been tested before and Emirates will come out stronger."

The International Air Transport Association on Monday urged Middle East governments to support their airlines through relief measures to help mitigate the impact from the coronavirus outbreak that has triggered flight cancellations and dented travel demand.