Mohammad Sarhan - VP, India & Nepal, Emirates is hopeful of restoring its global network and ramping up operations to meet market demand.
Emirates currently operate passenger services to more than 120 destinations across 6 continents. The carrier has taken many initiatives to instill confidence among travellers. Emirates continues to work closely with local and international authorities to operate its flights safely and sustainably.
How was year 2021 for you and what are your expectations for 2022?
It may still be a turbulent time for international travel, but looking back over the past 12 months, our agile operations have enabled us to make strong progress with recovery. We restored 90 percent of our pre-pandemic network, launched a new route service to Miami, rolled out contactless technology for a smoother experience at Dubai Airport, and we recently announced plans to retrofit 105 of our aircraft fleet with the highly lauded Premium Economy Class cabin. Emirates has always been at the forefront of innovation and we look forward to continuing leading the way with world-class products and exceptional services.
Our cargo operations continue to play a crucial role with the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The air cargo carrier has in fact transported 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Our home and hub, Dubai has also had a stellar year as it continues to safely welcome international tourists to Expo 2020. According to recent forecasts published by ICAEW – the UAE economy is expected to grow by 6.5 percent in 2022, reaching its pre-pandemic level in the first quarter.
While the Omicron variant may have some effects on international travel recovery in 2022, we still look ahead with more optimism. The aviation industry is resilient, and we are confident it will eventually bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. For now, our main priority is to continue flying our customers safely and to offering superb travel experiences in the air and on-ground.
Every country keeps on changing COVID protocol, border policies etc. How challenging these are for you?
As the situation continues to evolve, we’re managing our global operations as best we can on a daily basis. The health and safety of our customers has always been a top priority and we continue to work closely with local and international authorities to operate our flights safely and sustainably.
How many global destinations you are connecting currently and what is the plan for 2022?
We currently operate passenger services to more than 120 destinations across six continents, including a new route service to Miami, which we launched in July 2021. Looking ahead to next year, we remain committed to restoring our global network and to ramping up operations across our network to meet market demand.
What new elements/technology you have incorporated in your operations and strategy to instil confidence among travelllers?
Resorting traveler confidence is very important, and we are very proud to have introduced various measures to offer customers a peace of mind while travelling. This includes: implementing a comprehensive set of safety measures at every touchpoint of the customer journey; introducing contactless technology, including self-check-in kiosks and biometric path at Dubai Airport; revising our booking policies to offer customers generous re-booking terms,; introducing an industry-first, COVID-19 medical travel insurance; and we were also one of the first airlines to implement the IATA travel pass across our global network. The safety and wellbeing of our customers has always been a top priority, and we’ll continue to review and update our safety protocols as needed.
By when do you expect that the aviation industry getting back to pre-COVID level?
Although certain challenges remain, and recovery will continue to be patchy - we are going into 2022 with more optimism and we expect global traffic to return to pre-COVID levels by 2023 or 2024.
How important is India to you?
India is a very important market for us, and we have shared strong ties with the country since 1985. We currently serve nine points, including - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, and Mumbai, utilising our wide-body Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. We remain committed to the country and to serving our Indian customers with unmatched travel experiences.