Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline, warns of dangerous economic threats to global aviation from reaction to the potential surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Clark said during a Reuters Next news conference that the airline is hopeful vaccines can deal with the new variant, but is far from convinced. The next few weeks will be pivotal in sustaining a monthslong comeback for the worldwide aviation industry, he predicted.
“I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position,” Clark said. “But … December is a very important month for the air travel business. If that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas.”
Clark said Emirates made the “difficult” decision to discontinue flights out of South Africa and several surrounding countries despite heavy demand for travel during the late-year period.
He also said, however, that ticket sales have remained strong in general, largely in line with the ongoing pre-Omicron recovery seen over the past several months. This is true even with the reinstatement in Europe of protective policies such as quarantines, PCR testing and track-and-trace, he said.
“People haven’t made that decision to cancel or pull off, so we’re hoping that it doesn’t worsen, that the border procedures for re-entry are not so draconian that it prevents them from traveling at all,” Clark said.