Emirates paid Dh5bn in ticket refunds since March
Payment represents 90% of the airline's backlog as the Covid-19 pandemic forced passengers to cancel their travel plans
Emirates has paid more than Dh5 billion in refunds since March after the Covid-19 pandemic forced passengers to scrap their travel plans as flights were grounded.
The Dubai-based airline processed 1.4 million refund requests received up until the end of June, representing 90 per cent of its backlog, except for some cases that require further review, Emirates said in a statement on Monday.
"We are committed to honouring refunds and are trying our utmost to clear the massive and unprecedented backlog that was caused by the pandemic," Emirates' president Tim Clark said. "Most cases are straightforward, and these we will process quickly. But there are cases which will take a bit more time for our customer teams to manually review and complete."
Global airlines have been inundated with refund claims as the Covid-19 pandemic led to flight cancellations as governments shut their borders and imposed strict restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata), a trade body representing some 290 carriers, said in April that cash-strapped carriers owe $35bn (Dh128.5bn) in refund claims and urged customers to accept vouchers instead.
Emirates said it has invested more resources to ramp up its refund processing capabilities since the pandemic started. It is also working with industry partners to facilitate refunds for passengers who have booked their Emirates flights through travel agents.
"We understand that from our customers’ standpoint, each pending refund request is one too many," Mr Clark said.
Where Emirates is flying to
As travel restrictions began to ease in some countries, Emirates has gradually restarted its passenger operations and expanded its network to 84 destinations so far.
To boost confidence in air travel, the airline has offered to pay all Covid-19 related medical expenses should passengers be diagnosed with the virus while they are away from home. This is valid for customers flying on Emirates until October 31 this year.
On September 6, the airline also confirmed that it will reinstate the full salaries of its staff from October after it took measures to preserve cash during the Covid-19 pandemic that decimated global air travel demand.
Updated: September 7, 2020 02:03 PM