The pandemic has changed our lives and also our way of travelling by air. Travel restrictions have increased and controls at airports have intensified. Fear has become the silent enemy of airlines, one of the sectors most affected by this health crisis. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on Wednesday that airlines in the Middle East will lose $4.8 billion this year. Even so, Emirates is prepared to regain the confidence of its customers and has therefore decided to cover medical expenses and quarantine costs of up to 150,000 euros and 100 euros per day for 14 days, respectively, for those passengers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their journey. This coverage - according to the company itself - will not have any extra cost for customers and will be available until October 31, 2020.
"Under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the Emirates is proud to lead the way in building trust for international travel. We know that people look forward to flying as the world's borders gradually open up, but they seek flexibility and reassurance if something unforeseen happens during their journey," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of the Emirates Group.
Al Maktoum highlighted the effort the company has had to make to "put in place measures at each stage of the journey to mitigate the risk of infection". After announcing this initiative, the Emirates CEO has announced the renewal of its booking policies to provide flexibility. "We are now taking it to the next level by being the first in the industry to offer our customers free global coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses and quarantine costs. This is an investment on our part, but we are putting our customers first, and we believe they will welcome this initiative," he said.
In an official statement, the airline has informed that this coverage - which will be valid for 31 days - will not have any extra cost and will be offered to all its customers, regardless of the destination or class they travel in. They have also assured that no person will have to register or fill in a form before travelling and that no one is obliged to use this coverage. "Any affected customer who has been diagnosed with coronavirus during their trip simply needs to contact a dedicated hotline for assistance and coverage," they have explained.
The Gulf Airline has adapted to this situation by revising its booking policies to offer customers "more flexibility and confidence" when planning their trips. They have made it clear that people whose travel plans are interrupted by flight or travel restrictions related to COVID-19 can simply keep their ticket, which will be valid for 24 months, and rebook for another flight at a later date; as well as request travel vouchers to compensate for future purchases from the company or request a refund through an online form.
The airline - which serves more than 60 destinations - puts health and safety first. That is why they have implemented a set of measures at each stage of the trip, including the distribution of free hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. In addition to taking responsibility for all expenses related to COVID-19, Emirates will assume all funeral costs for those who lose their lives as a result of this virus during the trip. According to the Business Insider newspaper, customers who take out this insurance could be entitled to 1,500 euros to pay for the funeral.