An Airbus A380-800 passenger plane of the Emirates Airlines at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.
Mikhail Tereshchenko | TASS | Getty Images
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai-based Emirates Airline will suspend the majority of passenger flights by March 25 due to the coronavirus crisis, it announced Sunday.
The temporary suspension, which includes exceptions based on demand and borders being open, comes amid mounting national lockdowns, border closures and flight groundings as coronavirus cases climb around the world. Emirates will retain its cargo operations.
“Emirates would like to clarify that while it will suspend the majority of its flights by 25 March, the airline will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to countries as long as borders remain open, and there is demand,” the company said in a statement Sunday.
“This currently includes destinations in: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada. The situation remains dynamic, and travellers can check flight status on emirates.com.”
Emirates Group said in a statement Sunday that it will not cut jobs, but will implement a temporary reduction in basic salary for the majority of its employees for three months, ranging from 25% to 50%. Emirates is the world’s largest A380 operator, and top-five largest airline in terms of passenger and freight ton kilometers flown.
“As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns,” Emirates Group chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said in Sunday’s statement.
“By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services.”
Cost-cutting measures being undertaken by the group beyond the salary cuts include postponing or canceling discretionary spending, freezing all non-essential recruitment and consultancy work, encouraging employees to take paid or unpaid leave, and a 100% basic salary cut for Emirates and airport services provider dnata’s presidents Tim Clark and Gary Chapman.
On the decision of the basic salary cuts, Sheikh Ahmed said, “Rather than ask employees to leave the business, we chose to implement a temporary basic salary cut as we want to protect our workforce and keep our talented and skilled people, as much as possible. We want to avoid cutting jobs. When demand picks up again, we also want to be able to quickly ramp up and resume services for our customers.”
The decision for the airline, one of the world’s largest in terms of passenger miles flown, means a significant hit to jet fuel demand in the region. Globally, major airlines are slashing services as demand screeches to a halt while people are urged to stay at home and self-isolate to slow the spread of the virus.
American Airlines last week announced a 75% cut to its operations, whil