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Emirates warns Omicron could cause ‘significant injuries’ to aviation industry

International Air Transport Association Holds Annual General Meeting in Boston
FILE PHOTO: Emirates airline president Tim Clark participates in a panel discussion at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 4, 2021. REUTERS / Brian Snyder

November 30, 2021

By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Jane Wardell

DUBAI (Reuters) – Emirates airline president Tim Clark said on Tuesday Emirates airline president Tim Clark said:

Clark said Emirates was working on the basis of a newly discovered variant that could be effectively treated with a vaccine, but acknowledged that the next few weeks would prove to be important for the industry as scientists assess risk.

“I would say that perhaps by the end of December we will have a much clearer position,” Clark said in an interview for the Reuters Next conference https://reutersevents.com/events/next.

“But in that moment, December is a very important month for the air travel business,” he added. “If we lose that, or lose the winter for many airlines, there will be significant injuries in the business, certainly the airline business and the suburbs.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned that the heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant has the potential to spread internationally and pose a very high risk of infection that could have “serious consequences”. in some places.

Omicron was first reported on 24 November in southern Africa, where infections have skyrocketed. Since then, it has spread to more than a dozen countries, many of which have imposed travel restrictions in an attempt to lock themselves down. On Monday, Japan joined Israel in announcing it would completely close its borders to foreigners.

“It has the potential to arrest, inhibit, but not prevent the increase in demand that we all benefited from a month or two ago,” says Clark.

However, he noted that it could also “go the other way”, with more draconian measures to deal with a greater threat from the variant.

Clark said the airline’s decision to close flights out of South Africa and some surrounding countries was difficult due to strong demand in the December period.

However, he said overall bookings were still strong despite the reintroduction of measures such as tracking and tracing, quarantine and PCR testing in some European markets.

“People haven’t made a decision to cancel or withdraw yet, so we hope it doesn’t get worse, that the border procedures for re-entry aren’t so draconian that it prevents them from traveling, ” he said.

PLAN FLEET

Emirates CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said just two weeks ago at the Dubai Airshow that the airline plans to deploy 60 more A380s to meet improved demand, adding to the 47 currently in service. .

“That will be overcome by whatever form this variation takes,” Clark said Monday. “If it is mild and accepted as mild in terms of the effects and effectiveness of the vaccine shield that can deal with it, then we hope to have all of our planes flying, including all 380s next summer.”

Clark said re-embedding flight attendants, pilots and engineers and retraining them in safety and other procedures is currently the “biggest inhibitor” for the airline.

“We are continuing to move as if this variant will be handled,” he said. “Otherwise… we will postpone our plans accordingly.”

To watch the next Reuters conference, please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi and Jane Wardell in Sydney; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Source link Emirates warns Omicron could cause ‘significant injuries’ to aviation industry

Bobby Allyn

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