Travel Trade Journal
Emirates back to pre-pandemic flight frequencies in India
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.com, 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.