Emirates says Omicron could bring ‘significant traumas’ for aviation industry

Emirates airline says losing December or winter to additional COVID-19 restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant of the virus could prove traumatic for the aviation industry.  

“I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position. But in that time, December is a very important month for the air travel business,” Emirates airline President Tim Clark told Reuters on November 30, 2021. “If that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery.”  

Some countries have already moved to reintroduce travel curbs. But despite some additional restrictions in Europe, Clark said bookings were still strong.  

“People haven’t made that decision to cancel or pull off, so we’re hoping that it doesn’t worsen, that the border procedures for re-entry are not so draconian that it prevents them from travelling at all,” Reuters quoted the long-term Emirates boss as saying.  

“It’s likely to arrest, inhibit but not stall the uptick in demand that we’ve all had the benefit of in the last month or two,” Clark said.  

Emirates is currently bringing back more of its fleet of Airbus A380s to active service thanks to the rising travel demand seen over the last few months. Clark said the fleet could make a full return by summer 2022, COVID-19 developments pending.  

“That will be tempered by whatever form this variant takes,” Clark told Reuters. “If it’s mild and it’s accepted as being mild in its effect and the efficacy of the vaccine shield is able to deal with it then we hope to have all our aircraft flying, including all the A380s by the summer of next year.”  

Clark said that the government was looking at the possibility of listing a stake in the airline group.  

“Yes, there has been talk about it. Yes, there has been perhaps a little bit more flesh on the whole subject than there has been in the past,” Clark told the news agency. “I’m waiting instructions as to how this is going to affect the Emirates group. What the government of Dubai decides to do… is up to them. “ 

Clark also said the airline had returned to profitability over the last six or seven weeks, although was still expecting a loss for the current financial year. The airline said on November 10, 2021 that it had halved its loss in the first six months of its financial year.  

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