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  • Emirates the long haul carrier known for its luxury

  • services, has set new standards for the way we

  • travel. In it's 2019-2020 financial year, 56

  • million passengers and almost 2.5 million metric

  • tons of cargo flew on Emirates to over 80

  • countries. But like airlines everywhere, the

  • carrier has been battered by the coronavirus

  • pandemic.

  • Covid-19 was especially devastating to airlines like

  • Emirates.

  • When we had to ground the airline for two months,

  • that's unprecedented in certainly my long career in

  • this business, never seen anything like it. And it

  • was a psychological blow actually just as well as

  • what's a physical blow.

  • Covid brought Emirates to a standstill.

  • In November 2010, Emirates group announced half year

  • net losses of three point eight billion dollars.

  • To keep passengers safe and on board, Emirates

  • requires face covering for it's passengers and

  • crew, conducts on site rapid covid tests for

  • fliers, and allows travelers in economy class to

  • purchase the adjacent seat on their flight.

  • And will Emirates, with its network of over 140

  • destinations and its fleet of wide bodied aircraft,

  • be able to bounce back from the economic fallout

  • pummeling the airline industry?

  • Emirates got its start in Dubai in the mid 1980s.

  • With a dwindling supply of oil, and the Iran-Iraq

  • war impacting its shipping container business, in

  • 1985, Dubai authorities launched Emirates Airline.

  • The carrier's maiden journey took place on a leased

  • Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 737 flying

  • from Dubai to Karachi.

  • Four years later, Emirates was traveling to over a

  • dozen destinations.

  • But it was cheap credit of the early 2000s, rising

  • oil prices, and an ambitious new ruler Sheikh

  • Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, that helped

  • transform the airline and the city.

  • And the goal was to transform Dubai into what it'd

  • been seeking to be for decades a link between east

  • and west, a place where people would stop over, but

  • also a place that people would stay as they began

  • to heavily invest into their tourism sector and

  • create the monuments that we now know, like the

  • Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah.

  • All of those were linked to the Emirates Airlines

  • strategy of getting as many people onto those

  • planes as possible in as short of a time as

  • possible.

  • By the early 2000s, Emirates boasted travel to more

  • than four dozen international destinations,

  • including London, Paris and Melbourne, Australia.

  • And it was flying to hotspots most European and

  • American carriers deemed too dangerous.

  • When I lived there, terminal two was kind of the

  • death terminal because that was a place that would

  • fly to Mogadishu, Kabul, Baghdad, Beirut.

  • They are willing to service places that other

  • airlines considered too risky.

  • And that's part of what Emirates Airlines tries to

  • do. It tries to go into places that others don't.

  • What Emirates realized was that as the capabilities

  • of aircraft were developing, not only were they

  • able to carry more people and cargo, but the range

  • was extended and Emirates realized that they could

  • turn Dubai into a super hub.

  • And while the airline industry was seeing growth

  • from low cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet,

  • Emirates was beefing up its cabin.

  • In 1992, Emirates became the first airline to

  • install a video entertainment system on all its

  • seatbacks. In 2008, it introduced the onboard

  • lounge for its Airbus A380 passengers.

  • And in 2017 debuted the world's first fully

  • enclosed first class private suite.

  • So since our inception, we have been focusing on

  • impeccable services and amenities throughout the

  • entire passenger journey.

  • Since our start in 1985 as well we've continued to

  • set the pace for innovation, luxury within the

  • travel industry.

  • I would describe Emirates as what they like to call

  • accessible luxury.

  • They want the image of luxury.

  • They want their airlines to look spick and span.

  • They want everybody to be taken care of as though

  • they're first class while offering fares that are

  • affordable for some of those developing world

  • customers that they're trying to seek.

  • Like its regional rivals, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways

  • and Qatar Airways, Emirates benefits from having a

  • well-funded government owner and a desirable

  • geographic location.

  • Dubai Airport is located just eight hours from two

  • thirds of the world's population.

  • Emirates is linked to Dubai's core identity.

  • It's part of one of its most successful brands.

  • And the royal family has put its full political and

  • economic capital into maintaining the Emirates

  • image as an affordable luxury airliner.

  • So we'll see them around for a long time.

  • Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on airlines

  • around the world, according to the International

  • Air Transport Association, global passenger traffic

  • plummeted 60 percent in 2020 to one point eight

  • billion travelers. Worldwide airlines in 2020 lost

  • 118 billion dollars.

  • And it brought airlines to a complete standstill.

  • Overall, global demand fell as much as 95 percent.

  • It's since rebounded, but it's still far below

  • where it had been. Depending on the country, it's

  • somewhere between 30 percent and about 45 percent

  • of pre covid levels.

  • In March 2020, Emirates temporarily suspended nearly

  • all of its passenger flights to and from the UAE,

  • except for repatriation flights to about a dozen

  • countries. That drop in passenger traffic led to

  • the company's first loss in its 30 year history.

  • In November 2020, the Emirates group announced half

  • year net losses of three point eight billion

  • dollars. And according to analysts, Emirates, with

  • its ultra long haul flights, may have a harder time

  • moving back to profitability than many of its

  • competitors.

  • Everything that made Emirates to be so distinctive

  • is basically what is working against them right

  • now.

  • This is the kind of travel that almost immediately

  • stopped. People were worried about getting the

  • disease. People were worried about spreading the

  • disease. People were worried about catching the

  • disease and being in another country.

  • And according to analysts, long haul carriers like

  • Emirates face a number of difficulties, including a

  • drop in international business travel and a laundry

  • list of worldwide covid-19 travel restrictions.

  • What company wanted to send their employees abroad

  • to another country, send them to a country that's

  • 10 plus hours away?

  • That demand dried up pretty much overnight by

  • covid.

  • You also have the issue that your crew and your

  • passengers are coming from many different

  • countries. So trying to understand when you are

  • basically checking somebody, if that person with

  • that particular passport is allowed to enter in a

  • given country is becoming a nightmare.

  • Another issue for the airline, unlike many of its

  • U.S. and European counterparts, Emirates doesn't

  • have a local domestic market to fall back on.

  • There's virtually no intra emirate flights.

  • There's no Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah flights that

  • Emirates can move into the way the domestic

  • carriers say in the United States or throughout

  • Europe were able to still move it within their own

  • national borders, even as the the lockdown's were

  • kicking in.

  • An additional problem for Emirates, according to

  • analysts, is the makeup of its fleet.

  • While many carriers have already transitioned to

  • smaller, more fuel efficient planes, Emirates

  • remains the world's largest operator of the Airbus

  • A380. The Emirates Airbus A380 can seat over 600

  • passengers and has a range of roughly 9000 miles.

  • Airbus announced an end to its A380 program in 2019

  • due to a lack of orders.

  • Of course, the aircraft aren't completely full and

  • therefore we are able to socially distance people

  • on flights, keep the crew well protected with all

  • the PPE that they're wearing and still doing good

  • standard service. And that's worked across the

  • whole network.

  • So if you have a hub, you have to have many

  • feeders, many routes that go to Dubai and then they

  • go out of Dubai.

  • The principle is not new.

  • Any airline has done that, but they did it at a

  • massive level to a level that nobody basically has

  • done it.

  • Emirates did, however, find some relief in cargo.

  • While the airline had a well-established

  • distribution network in place prior to the

  • pandemic, In April 2020 facing a surge in demand

  • for PPE, it stuffed cargo on seats in economy class

  • and in overhead bins.

  • It also removed economy class seats from passenger

  • planes, essentially converting them into cargo

  • planes.

  • At the beginning of the pandemic, we were focusing

  • more on the cargo side and cargo has proved to be

  • our sort of

  • surviving line, if I must say, because it has

  • helped us to mitigate whatever risks and losses

  • that we had earlier.

  • According to the UN's World Tourism Organization,

  • global tourism suffered its worst year on record in

  • 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74

  • percent. Most experts don't expect to see a return

  • to pre pandemic levels happening before 2023 or

  • perhaps later.

  • It's a major disruption, probably the worst we've

  • ever had. But goodness me, we have the wherewithal

  • to try and get ourselves through it and get going

  • again as soon as possible.

  • And I believe that demand will return to pre covid

  • levels sooner than everybody else is thinking that

  • they will.

  • In May 2020, Emirates announced 2019-2020 revenue of

  • twenty five billion dollars, six percent less than

  • the year earlier. Passenger revenue made up eighty

  • three point one percent of revenue.

  • Cargo made up twelve point three percent and non

  • transport services made a four point one percent.

  • Excess baggage made up the remainder.

  • So it's the mass tourism, the millions of people

  • that they want to be ferrying back and forth, which

  • that's going to have to wait for the vaccine in a

  • lot of places it'll have to wait for people to feel

  • confident enough to spend money on things like

  • tourism, for Emirates to take advantage of that.

  • While it waits for those tourist numbers to ramp up.

  • Emirates is also hoping to capitalize on the global

  • demand for vaccines.

  • In October 2020 Emirates, announced it was setting

  • up the world's largest dedicated airside hub for

  • covid-19 vaccines at its cargo terminal.

  • The airline also said it was working with major

  • pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, to

  • transport vaccines around the world.

  • It is a very high yielding thing that has been

  • attractive to airlines and they have been building

  • up facilities over the past few years so that they

  • can have a bigger slice of that business.

  • Certainly at the moment we're working on trying to

  • move this Pfizer vaccine in specially designed

  • containers on our planes, in our holds, and in the

  • cabins, and keeping them at that level through the

  • distribution point. So we have the chillers, we

  • have the freezers, we have the logistical control

  • for the airline to get these vaccines into multiple

  • parts of the world where others can do that.

  • By February 2021, Emirates had delivered millions of

  • vaccine doses to Egypt, South Africa, and Latin

  • America from manufacturing hubs in India and

  • elsewhere. And once the pandemic subsides, Emirates

  • is hoping Dubai continues to emerge as a major

  • tourist destination.

  • In March 2021, Dubai launched its vision for 2040,

  • which includes a 400 percent increase in public

  • beach areas and a commitment that 60 percent of

  • Dubai's areas will be nature reserves.

  • The growth of Emirates and the growth of Dubai are

  • interlinked with one another.

  • Dubai wouldn't be where it is without Emirates, and

  • Emirates has really turned Dubai into a global

  • business and leisure hub.