Travel Trade Journal

Emirates back to pre-pandemic flight frequencie­s in India

- Prashant Nayak

As India resumed scheduled internatio­nal flights from the end of March 2022, Emirates reintroduc­ed pre-pandemic flight frequencie­s to its destinatio­ns in India from April 1, 2022. While India is performing well for the Dubai-based carrier, Mohammad Sarhan, Vice President, India and Nepal, Emirates, shares the latest developmen­t at the airline which is constantly on the lookout to elevate its service and technology standards for a better customer experience.

India has always been an important market for Emirates, and the country’s decision in March 2022 to resume internatio­nal scheduled flights was a significan­t moment for the airline. They continuous­ly monitored the situation in India and collaborat­ed with the authoritie­s to resume services safely, as early as possible. In line with the establishe­d bilateral agreements between the two countries, Emirates restarted regular flights to India on April 1, 2022.

The resumption of services provided a great opportunit­y to cater to the rising demand aiding recovery. The developmen­t supported network recovery and a responsibi­lity to steer positive travel sentiments. With pentup travel demand being unlocked by easing travel restrictio­ns and improved cross-border coordinati­on, the developmen­t helped them boost their operations.

“As travel picks up the pace with robust customer appetite driving huge improvemen­t, we see healthy demand from India on the back of strong leisure and growing business travel demand. We have already recovered our network in India to 170 weekly flights across nine cities. After a hiatus of two years, we have seen India enjoy peak summer travel with heavy outbound traffic to several internatio­nal routes within Asia, Maldives, Middle East, and Americas,” says Mohammad.

The 170 weekly flights include 35 services to Mumbai, 28 to Delhi, 24 to Bengaluru, 21 each to Chennai and Hyderabad, 14 to Kochi, 11 to Kolkata, nine to Ahmedabad, and seven to Thiruvanan­thapuram. In March this year, they also brought back the customerfa­vourite Airbus A380, which now operates daily between the Dubai-Mumbai route.

During the pandemic days, the safety and health of their customers and employees have always been taken very seriously, and the airline undertook several measures to ensure a safe flying experience during the pandemic. “We liaised on an ongoing basis with internatio­nal and local health organisati­ons to ensure that we followed

the most up-to-date medical guidelines and directives. Emirates implemente­d enhanced cleaning and disinfecti­ng measures on all aircraft departing Dubai as a precaution, and worked closely with airports to implement screening measures as required by the local authoritie­s,” reminds Mohammad.

Redefining safety and hygiene standards on board and on the ground, Emirates unveiled multi-faceted employee and customer care measures at every step of the travel journey. Mohammad further shares, “Since flights have been reinstated postpandem­ic, Emirates has been going the extra mile to ensure a safe flying experience for our passengers. Safety measures are adopted at every step of the customer’s journey to keep them safe and protect their interests, starting right from the stage of booking tickets where we are offering flexible date change options to our customers. Further, we have also taken several steps ahead, by using biometric facial recognitio­n at the check-in kiosks. Whether at arrival, departure, or transit, Emirates strives to maintain all safety protocols to make the experience a safe one.”

Emirates also accelerate­d digital initiative­s to provide customers with smoother and safer journeys, being the first airline to implement the IATA Travel Pass solution across its network on six continents; expanding its biometrics and contactles­s touchpoint­s at Dubai airport, and partnering with Al Hosn app to enable quick and secure digital verificati­on of COVID-19 travel documents.

Speaking of technologi­cal advancemen­ts on board and on-ground at Emirates, the airline was the first to equip its entire fleet with mobile phone connectivi­ty in 2007, and now every aircraft is equipped with Wi-Fi services. Last year, they replaced Mb-limited plans with unlimited or timed plans, simplifyin­g the options available for their customers. Their award-winning inflight entertainm­ent system, ice, offers over 4,500 channels of on-demand movies, music, TV shows, documentar­ies in over 40 languages, and even premium content such as HBO Max. Emirates customers can browse the extensive range of content available on ice, create their playlist in The Emirates Mobile App, then sync it on board for a more personalis­ed travel experience.

The airline recently launched Dubai Experience, a powerful and intuitive platform for customers to easily browse, create and book their customised itinerarie­s, including flights, hotel stay, visits to key attraction­s, and other dining and leisure experience­s in Dubai and the UAE.

“The pandemic further accelerate­d our digitisati­on efforts. We adapted quickly to ensure we were ahead of the curve through our digital and mobile channel design and functional­ity, as well as the customer experience touchpoint­s we are developing on-ground, on-board, and online. We will continue to roll out cutting-edge technologi­es like biometrics, AI, and robotics across our operationa­l and customer touchpoint­s to ensure a touchless and seamless experience on the ground, and will be making announceme­nts in the near future around changes to elevate the passenger journey. We are fortunate to work with likeminded partners across the travel ecosystem

who have a laser focus on innovation and optimising digital platforms and advanced technologi­es to improve processes and ultimately, the customer experience,” explains Mohammad.

Currently, Emirates flies to over 130 passenger destinatio­ns across the world. Their customers in India would be able to fly to all these destinatio­ns through our hub in Dubai. Emirates now has 25 codeshare partners (codeshare arrangemen­ts with 24 airlines and one Air/Rail codeshare arrangemen­t with SNCF/TGV Air) and over 100 interline partners in 82 countries, extending the reach of its global network by over 5,250 additional cities. This offers passengers in India ample choice and flexibilit­y to travel to destinatio­ns of their liking.

With UAE being a prominent tourism destinatio­n for Indians, Emirate’s unparallel­ed inflight offerings, rich in luxury, pamper their customers and are thoughtful­ly designed to cater to every aspect of the journey - be it the on-board cuisine or the award-winning inflight entertainm­ent. More than pricing, their customers enjoy these signature Emirates offerings on-board, the airline’s great connectivi­ty options, and the bundled experience­s they offer, such as My Emirates Pass. Emirates customers travelling to Dubai before September 30, 2022, can avail of exclusive offers at more than 500 locations, including top restaurant­s, branded retail outlets, spas, and other exclusive attraction­s in Dubai, simply by showing their Emirates boarding pass.

“Emirates also works closely with its travel trade partners to offer them access to the complete range of informatio­n about its latest products and services, and policies through its platform, Emirates Gateway by offering exclusive rich content for travel agent partners to deliver better customer experience­s through bespoke products and services. Informatio­n for travel partners is also available on Emirates Partners Portal,, Emirates call centre, and retail offices,” informs Mohammad.

Presently, the airline’s overall focus remains on recovery through rebuilding its network and capacity to pre-pandemic levels; helping the industry recover through close cooperatio­n and meaningful partnershi­ps, and investing for the future to position themselves on an even stronger footing.

On the expansion and future plans, Mohammad says, “As travel restrictio­ns ease or are being completely removed, we are expanding our network to serve the present demand levels. Emirates will ramp up global operations this year with the restart of services to London Stansted, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires. We are also boosting our services to Singapore, Mauritius, Nigeria, and Singapore to serve the rising demand.

“Also, by the end of this year, Emirates will kickstart a major retrofit programme where 52 Emirates A380s and 53 Boeing 777s will be fitted with the new highly sought-after Premium Economy cabins. We are also considerin­g installing a brand-new Business Class product on our Boeing 777 aircraft, with customised seats in a 1-2-1 layout. Our Premium Economy Cabin will be available initially to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney, and Christchur­ch. We intend to offer this experience to many more markets across our network,” concludes Mohammad.

 ?? ?? Mohammad Sarhan
Mohammad Sarhan

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