Photo of Emirates a380 flying

Update March 23: In a fascinating update (read for the latest), all Emirates passenger service, as well as Etihad will shut down indefinitely from March 25th, due to a UAE Government restriction on all scheduled or unscheduled passenger flights until further notice. It’s been a wild 24 hours.

Update March 22: Emirates was backtracking on suspending “all” flights, before today’s announcement.

With a home city in Dubai that’s largely a transit hub, it seemed as if Emirates may be able to weather the storm better than other airlines, which depended on tourists crossing a border. That’s no longer the case on Sunday March 22nd, with a stunning announcement from Emirates that all passenger flights would be suspended until further notice, by March 25th, 2020.

And then less than two hours later, they changed their mind, and many flight routes will remain. A day later, it’s no flights at all, after the UAE Government suspended all flights.

The UAE has taken drastic measures in recent days to curb health concerns, including suspending travel for all citizens currently in the country, and not allowing non citizen, permanent residents to return from abroad.

Here was the original tweet from Emirates…

As an exclusively international airline, Emirates decision falls in line with trends elsewhere. United has now cut all but Mexico and select cities from its international flying, and most airlines have now suspended at least 90% of long haul routes. Still, an entire shut down is wild.

During the suspension of all passenger traffic in and out of the United Arab Emirates, Emirates will continue cargo operations via Boeing 777 Freighters, if only to provide critical support to the people of the UAE and trade partners during this time.

Incredibly, Emirates says it will cut salaries but will not pursue job reductions at this time, which makes the move admirable, if it holds true. His highness, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group issued the following statement…

These are unprecedented times for the airline and travel industry, but we will get through it. Our business is taking a hit, but what matters in the long run is that we do the right thing for our customers, our employees, and the communities we serve. With the support and unity that we have seen from our employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders, I’m confident that Emirates can tackle this challenge and come out stronger.”

A lack of coordination between nations around the world led to surprise border closures, which caught both passengers and airlines off guard. With so much uncertainty around once certain journeys, the airline experienced a dramatic drop in demand, and rather than burn through cash on empty planes, has focused on its people, and providing long term viability.

This could not have been an easy move, but in the long run, it may prove an admirable, if not utterly confusing one…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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5 Comments

  1. I’ve used the refund/rebooking option due to my flight saying its been cancelled. Now I must rebook. As they have not issued the refund voucher yet.

    Flights from EWR to ATH, are still showing on-line that there are no flights or seats available. Not sure what to do now? I can pay for the new ticket. Will they honour my refund voucher. Had it even been processed.

    You cannot contact them its always to busy. I tried the call back days ago and they said they would call back on 30 hours, they never did.

    Really EMIRATES, WHAT GOING ON!!
    Question : did Emirates overbooked do much they had to do this to be able to honour all tickets. Back tracking after 2 hours makes me suspicious!!

    Elizabeth

  2. I’ve used the refund/rebooking option due to my flight saying its been cancelled. Now I must rebook. As they have not issued the refund voucher yet?

    Flights from EWR to ATH, are still showing on-line that there are no flights or seats available. Not sure what to do now? I can pay for the new ticket. Will they honour my refund voucher? Has t even been processed.

    You cannot contact them its always to busy. I tried the call back days ago and they said they would call back on 30 hours, they never did.

    Really EMIRATES, WHAT’S GOING ON!!
    Question : did Emirates overbook so much they had to do this to be able to honour all tickets. Back tracking after 2 hours makes me suspicious!!

    Elizabeth

  3. We Tried to Contact Emirates and their Agent. With Emirates All lines to Mumbai /Ahmedabad were busy.cant get through.Tried The Agents and they directed us to Contact Emirates.Saturday All Emirates offices were Close. So we went Direct to the Airport to get our Tickets changed. Emirates Representative said They cannot change the Dates we have to Contact the Agents who issued the Tickets. And Agent says we have to contact Emirates. We couldn’t get through anywhere while there were Seats Available All the time we tried to change the Dates. Everytime we Tried and got through they said the Flight is Full.
    So we Tried Directly to Book Emirates Tickets on the same Flight which we Tried to Change our Dates They issued the Tickets for that Flight. When we Boarded the Flight and While the Flight took off I Noticed around 40/50 Seats Empty and all the time they said its Full can’t change the Date.
    I Took the Photographs of Empty seats after the Plane was flying to Prove that they are Only available when you Buy a New Ticket Otherwise it is Full when you want to Change the Dates.
    Emirates are Not Changing the Dates to accommodate people who has the Return Tickets. BUT There to Sell New Tickets to their Customer who has ALREADY got Tickets. So that they Don’t have to give Refunds.

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