Emirates cuts wages, backflips on grounding entire fleet

Emirates has been brought to a “sudden and painful halt” by the coronavirus pandemic, announcing it will ground the majority of its passenger flights and cut staff wages by up to 50 per cent.

One of the world’s biggest international airlines on Sunday night (Dubai time) said it would “temporarily suspend most passenger operations” from Wednesday, March 25, whittling its destinations from 145 to 13.

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Only 90 minutes earlier, Emirates had said it would stop all passenger flights from that date, not saying when they would resume.

But then the state-owned Dubai carrier “received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers”, as countries around the world urge citizens to come home as borders close in a global attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

“Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to the following countries and territories until further notice as long as borders remain open and there is demand: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada,” the airline’s statement said.

“The situation remains dynamic.”

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The majority of Emirates Group employees will have their salary cut by 25 to 50 per cent for three months.

“Employees will continue to be paid their other allowances during this time. Junior level employees will be exempt from basic salary reduction,” the airline said.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark and the president of ground handling and cargo business firm dnata, Gary Chapman, are each taking a “100 per cent basic salary cut” for three months.

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Emirates chairman and chief executive sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum noted “the world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak”.

“Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets,” he said in Sunday night’s statement.

“But COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past 6 weeks.”

Any remaining travellers are urged to check their flights on emirates.com.

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