Tim Clark, president of the Emirates airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2003, participated in the CAPA Aviation Centre conference and stated that the company he presides over expects a strong recovery of the aeronautical sector despite the terrible impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on the sector, which has caused a great decrease in airport flow due to the restrictions imposed on travel by the authorities to tackle the current pandemic.
The executive pointed out that the coronavirus has been "a technical error" in the history of the aviation sector and that global demand for air travel would return faster and stronger than expected. He also said that operators such as Emirates could even emerge more resilient from this possible upcoming recovery. "The pandemic is a technical problem. We have had many in the past, perhaps not as significant and severe as this one for our industry, but nevertheless it is a technical problem. We will get through it and recover," said Tim Clark.
The President of the Emirates noted that the business model of the Dubai-based airline is not fully threatened by the coronavirus pandemic, despite the limitations on travel imposed by global health measures.
"As it progresses, is there room for network operators of the size, scale, style and brand of Emirates? Of course there is. I strongly believe in that... Does it mean that people will not travel to major international hubs because they are worried about the virus? Once we have a vaccine and the world is resilient enough to deal with the disease and possibly more pathogens as they attack us, then memories will be fragile and demand will be strong and the role of the network operator in many ways could also emerge stronger than in the past. This is an interesting hypothesis and many people will disagree with me. They say: 'no, no, no, you have to downsize'. But I don't believe in that," said Tim Clark.
Clark's statements come at a time when there are rumours that Emirates might review the company's strategy, which is spreading globally. For his part, the airline's director of operations, Adel Ahmad al-Redha, said in June that Emirates might need to redefine part of its operating model in response to the pandemic, as El Correo del Golfo recalled. Although Clark understands that the model implemented should not be revised: "We must assume that the growth curve that took place before the pandemic will be recovered". "I believe there will be a rebound and that demand will drive that rebound. Whether the airline industry is in good shape to respond is another question," explained the President of the Emirati company.
Despite his optimism about the recovery of the airline industry, Tim Clark acknowledged that air travel restrictions imposed by several governments are likely to "get worse before they get better" in the short term.