Emirates to cut passenger flights to 13 destinations over COVID-19

Long-haul carrier Emirates said Sunday it has dramatically cut its passenger flight destinations from 145 locations to just 13 countries. It’s a pivotal move that reflects the dramatic slowdown in traffic through the airline’s hub in Dubai, the world’s busiest international airport, due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

The state-owned carrier said it will keep flying to the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and Canada, among a few other select destinations. The company had just hours earlier announced a suspension of all passenger flights, but said it reversed that decision after receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers.

The United Arab Emirates, which is home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has all but closed its borders to travellers with exceptions for those transiting through or for returning Emirati citizens.

The state-owned carrier said it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world. It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.

Airlines around the globe have greatly reduced their capacity in response to the pandemic and travel regulations. Many carriers are struggling to cover their costs and pay salaries with their fleets grounded and countries shutting their borders to travellers.

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