Dubai Airports planning for phased travel re-start after Covid-19 restrictions lift

Airport operator provides relief measures for aviation partners affected by travel shutdown

Dubai Airports is working closely with its aviation and commercial partners and is planning for a gradual remobilisation once travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. Courtesy: DXB. 
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Dubai Airports, operator of the world's busiest airport by international traffic, is planning for "gradual remobilisation" once travel restrictions aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 are eventually lifted.

It is also offering relief measures for its aviation and commercial partners under a "business stabilisation framework", Dubai Airports said in a statement on Wednesday. 
"Flexibility is more important now than ever," said Eugene Barry, executive vice president of commercial at Dubai Airports.

“Of paramount importance is that we protect and retain our aviation and business partnerships, which have been carefully built over a number of years, and ensure that our revenue and service drivers will be in a position to remobilise, in line with approvals from federal authorities."

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a near-total shutdown of global travel leading to expectations that it will cut airlines' passenger revenue by more than half, or about $314 billion ( Dh1.15 trillion) this year, and threatening the loss of 25 million jobs worldwide, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Dubai Airports said it responded to the Covid-19 crisis through an assistance programme for aviation partners, tenants and concessionaires covering the period from March 1 to May 31. The programme includes includes waiving 100 per cent of minimum guarantees or equivalent fees for partners who have been required to cease trading due to the suspension of airport operations caused by the global pandemic.

For those that have maintained partial operations, other measures are in place to address the reduction in aviation activity, including "rescheduling and other financial adjustments", it said without elaborating.

"We have taken a number of unprecedented measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 to our own business, as well as those of our partners," Mr Barry said. "Our futures are intertwined, and dependent on our ability to maintain core relationships, but also on adapting to unprecedented conditions and new behaviours.”

IATA, an industry body representing some 290 carriers, has warned that cash-strapped airlines are in need of government rescue packages to survive the crisis or face the risk of bankruptcy.

The Dubai government has already stepped up support for its airline, Emirates, pledging an equity injection at the end of last month.

Passenger operations at Dubai International and Dubai World Central (DWC), with the exception of repatriation flights, were suspended by UAE authorities on March 24. The suspension is in place until further notice, Dubai Airports said.

Cargo operations, which are excluded from the ban, are surging at Dubai International as 12 airlines, including Emirates SkyCargo and flydubai, have been given permission to operate an average of 110 weekly flights weekly in response to "heightened demand" for pharmaceuticals, food, and other essential goods, the operator said.