UAE-owned Emirates Airline could take up to four years to resume flights to its entire network after flights were grounded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the company's President, Tim Clark, revealed yesterday.
"I think probably by the year 2022/23, 2023/24 we will see things coming back to some degree of normality and Emirates will be operating its network as it was and hopefully as successfully as it was," Clark said at the Arabian Travel Market virtual event.
Clark, who is due to step down as president and become an non-executive adviser to the airline this month, pointed out that Emirates had hoped to resume operations by mid-May, "but we could not facilitate that given the current circumstances."
He stressed that the current period was the "most difficult in our 35-year history", warning that the aviation sector was witnessing a "very critical and fragile state". "Some airlines might end up defunct due after the current crisis," he noted.
"Demand would likely continue to increase into 2023 and 2024 unless there was another major trauma to the global economy," Clark added, stressing that the air carrier would continue to ask passengers to wear gloves and face masks while on board.
COVID-19 has so far infected a total of 6,445,433 globally, 380,586 of who have died and 2,949,266 have recovered, according to the US' Worldometeres. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the virus as a pandemic.