Emirates has taken home Airline of the Year 2020 at the Aviation Business Awards. The airline was recognised for its resilience, agility and innovation in the face of the global pandemic, often leading the industry in its initiatives to boost traveller confidence and comfort. Emirates was also hailed for its customer-centric approach, optimising the utilisation of its fleet to generate revenue, striking a balance between business imperatives with new health and safety protocols, while maintaining its industry-leading passenger experience.
Sir Tim Clark was also honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony, which recognised his contributions to the aviation industry over the course of his career. In November, Sir Tim was also the recipient of the Gulf Business Lifetime Achievement Award recognising his dedication and commitment to building the airline, and his pivotal role in transforming the flying experience not just at Emirates, but for the wider industry.
From the onset of the pandemic, Emirates took numerous steps to protect the health and safety of its passengers and crew and was one of the first airlines to redesign the customer experience and implement robust biosafety measures across every touchpoint. This included complimentary hygiene kits for all passengers, dedicated crew to maintain onboard lavatory cleanliness, protective screens at check-in desks, thermal scanning and social distancing markers at the airport, PPE for frontline employees, enhanced aircraft cleaning and disinfection protocols, and more.
Onboard, the airline has been able to safely reinstate its signature products and services including its A380 Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa, while strictly observing health and safety protocols.
On the ground, Emirates launched self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at DXB, with the aim to reduce the person to person contact. This was followed with the launch of the world’s first biometrics path offering customers a frictionless journey across four key checkpoints at the airport.
The consistent delivery of safety measures and hygiene standards while maintaining high service levels resulted in Emirates being rated the safest airline in the world in its response to the COVID-19 Pandemic according to the Safe Travel Barometer.
Emirates became the first mover in the airline industry to offer free COVID-19 medical cover for customers travelling to any destination on its network. Later in the year, Emirates took the initiative a step further to offer the industry’s first multi-risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover, which took effect on 1 December.
Today, the airline serves 99 global destinations, representing around 70% of its pre-pandemic passenger network. Emirates is working hard to safely rebuild its network in the coming months as more airports and cities reopen. The airline is also fully utilising its 151-strong Boeing 777 family of aircraft across its network for passenger and freighter missions. Throughout the pandemic, Emirates Skycargo has been ramping up its air cargo connectivity and network in response to the strong global demand for air freight to transport essential commodities, medicines and PPE, fresh food, amongst other cargo, helping the airline generate revenue.
As the COVID-19 vaccine is quickly being introduced in some countries, Emirates SkyCargo is stepping up its readiness to handle the logistical complexities of its global distribution by creating the world’s first dedicated airside cargo hub for the vaccine in Dubai. SkyCargo is currently planning for the re-opening the Emirates SkyCentral DWC cargo terminal in Dubai South to serve as a dedicated anchor hub for cold chain storage and distribution of the vaccine.