Dubai airline Emirates canceled its decision to discontinue all passenger flights, shortly after announcing that it would cease operations on March 25 due to the novel outbreak of the corona virus.
The airline said it had “received requests from governments and customers to support the return of travelers” and would continue to operate passenger flights to 13 destinations, out of the usual 159.
Emirates will continue to fly to the United kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, United States of America and Canada.
The announcement came just a few hours after an earlier statement that the airline would “temporarily suspend all of its passenger operations by March 25”.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will resume our operations as soon as things allow,” said airline chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.
The UAE announced its first two deaths from Covid-19 disease on Friday after reporting 153 infections so far, of which 38 people have recovered.
Maktoum said the Emirates Group was “doing well” against current fiscal year targets by January this year, but “Covid-19 has suddenly and painfully brought all of this to a standstill in the past six weeks.”
“The world has literally been quarantined due to the Covid19 outbreak,” he said.
Emirates also announced plans to cut basic salaries for the majority of employees by 25 to 50 percent for three months, but not cutting jobs.
“Instead of asking employees to leave the company, we opted for a temporary cut in our base salary to protect our workforce,” said Maktoum. “We want to avoid cutting jobs.”
The Gulf States have imposed various restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the aviation sector.
The UAE has stopped issuing visas on arrival and has refused to allow banned foreigners who are legally resident but are outside the country to return.