During a video conference hosted by the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, and Mr. Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer at Etihad Aviation Group, discussed how they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and planning to resume future operations. The airline executives also shared perspectives on the future of global aviation.
In their remarks, Sir Tim and Mr. Douglas expressed strong confidence that the challenges posed by Covid-19 will be overcome, especially with regard to the airline and travel industry. The speakers stated that their respective airlines continue to safely provide repatriation flights to and from the U.A.E., as well as cargo operations aimed at ensuring vital imports and delivering critical supplies for combatting the pandemic. They also noted the steps Emirates and Etihad are taking to preserve jobs and retain staff during this difficult period.
In the discussion, hosted and moderated by U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council President Danny Sebright, the executives lauded the work of their respective employees and the campaigns launched by both airlines to fight Covid-19. They also warmly thanked the U.A.E.’s leadership for their response to the crisis , for their continued support, and for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Emirati citizens and residents.
Setting their sights on the future, Sir Tim and Mr. Douglas turned to what business might look like in the short and medium terms, and how they will continue to work closely with the U.A.E. government, policy makers, and partners on how best to address challenges. In particular, they detailed the innovative policies, procedures, and technical measures that are being implemented to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew while resuming more normal operations.
Sir Tim and Mr. Douglas reiterated their beliefs that until an effective vaccine becomes widely available, how passengers fly in the future will be very different. Lasting restrictions like 14-day quarantines, testing, and social distancing will impact demand and operations.
Both executives commented that 85% of the world’s airlines could face insolvency by the end of 2020, without government intervention. Moreover, Emirates and Etihad believe that it could take until 2023 for passenger demand to return to pre-crisis levels.
The speakers also remarked on the importance of liberal aviation agreements, which are critical to the growth of global networks and passenger convenience.
During the briefing, H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S., extended his gratitude to both airline leaders and their employees for their dedication to “returning people home, delivering essential goods, and supporting public health in these extraordinary times.”
The video call was attended by over 900 senior executives from leading American and Emirati tourism, aviation, defense & aerospace, healthcare, logistics, finance, and technology companies as well as by U.S. and U.A.E. government officials. Attendees of particular importance included the Co-Chair of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council H.E. Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi; the two Co-Chairs of the UAE-UK Business Council His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, Board Member of Etihad Airways and Sir Edward Lister, Chief Strategic Advisor to the British Prime Minister; and the U.A.E. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, H.E. Mansoor Abulhoul. Members of the recently formed UAE-UK Business Council and the Canada-UAE Business Council were also in attendance.
Mr. Sebright concluded the call by thanking Sir Tim, Mr. Douglas, and attendees for their participation, and their shared commitment to supporting the U.S.-U.A.E. bilateral relationship in this unprecedented time.
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