International travel set to surge, says Emirates boss

 

Emirates is bracing for a winter surge with the airline's President Sir Tim Clark predicting a return of global international passenger travel.

The Dubai-based carrier will be one of the first airline carriers to globally trial the International Air Transport Association travel pass.

The pass is a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.

IATA Travel Pass enables passengers to create a 'digital passport' to verify their pre-travel test or vaccination meets the requirements of the destination.

They will also be able to share the test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel. Phase one will be rolled out next month.

 

This news comes on the back of Thailand's move to allow vaccinated tourists a reduced quarantine time, from 14 days to three, and even the possibility of wavering it entirely.

Sir Tim, who has been with the airline since it started in 1985, delayed retirement to help the airline navigate the current pandemic crisis and in his exclusive interview with News Corp, said the IATA travel pass would play a significant role in international travel.

"The first thing is that you must get universal acceptability of the vaccines themselves," Sir Tim said.

"The World Health Organisation needs to step up and recognise not only the Western vaccines … they need to recognise the Chinese vaccines or the Russian vaccines (for example), which seem to have quite a high level of efficacy.

"Once you've got that, the countries, not the airlines, are going to require evidence of vaccination prior to arrival, in my view.

"The digital passport, which contains all the data that you can trace, all the vaccination data that you've had, is a way of doing it."

Emirates President Sir Tim Clark. Picture: Supplied
Emirates President Sir Tim Clark. Picture: Supplied

Last year, a 75.6 per cent drop in international passenger bookings cost airlines about $120bn making it the worst year in history for worldwide travel demand.

Sir Tim said Emirates was ready to restore operations to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth in line with the Australian Government, adding an extra five Airbus A380s were set to join their fleet of 118 over the next two years.

"I'm not one of those that share the view that long haul travel will be diminished, I don't share the view that corporate travel will be diminished," Sir Tim said.

"I honestly believe that once we're through this … it would start to come back at pace in … July, August … and certainly by the end of the year towards Christmas and New Year.

"And the business will come not in a trickle feed, it'll move at pace and there will be large volumes of it, in my view.

 

"Emirates will be ready to restore its network and its fleet sooner rather than later."

Sir Tim also addressed concerns over future flight cancellations.

"If somebody makes a booking on us and [COVID-19] continues and makes you unable to travel, our policy is that we will refund the money or offer them an alternative," he said.

"We're leaving these in place for over two years."

With about 30 per cent of the airline's income coming from its cargo operations, SkyCargo, Sir Tim said they were working with the Australian Government to bring vaccines in.

"We had already, well before the pandemic started, specialised in the transportation of pharmaceutical goods by air," he said.

Last month, Emirates operated its first flight serviced by fully vaccinated customer facing staff, with about 26,000 of the group's frontline aviation workforce now vaccinated with two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccines.

The United Arab Emirates' second flag carrier, Etihad Airways claimed to be the first airline in the world to have all operating pilots and cabin crew vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sir Tim said Emirates were yet to decide on the issue of compulsory passenger vaccination.

Originally published as International travel set to surge, says Emirates boss


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