Emirates has virtually shut down and parked 85 percent of its fleet as airspace and border closures due to the spread of coronavirus strikes at the heart of its business model. Emirates is based in Dubai but the base functions mainly as a legally necessary intermediate stop for intercontinental flights. If it can’t fly globally, it literally has no business. “We cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns,” Emirates CEO Saeed Al Maktoum said in a memo to employees and quoted by Bloomberg. “Some of our competitors, or even our supply chain partners, may not survive this crisis.” Emirates will continue to operate its cargo business.
The airline will idle a total of 230 aircraft, including most of its 115 A380s and most of its 155 Boeing 777s. The airline is taking care of its employees, however. Most will be paid 25 percent to 50 percent of their salaries for the duration of the crisis. “If any employee had volunteered previously for unpaid leave, they can now opt to cancel that leave in lieu of the above,” Sheikh Ahmed said.