The majority of international air travel has been put on hold for the foreseeable future, but with Emirates announcing last week it is set to recommence regularly scheduled flights to a select few cities it begs the question: what will it be like flying out of Dubai airport?
Discussing what he believes international air travel will look like, the CEO of Dubai Airport Paul Griffiths said temperature screening, face masks, on-the-spot COVID-19 testing, robust deep cleaning and sanitisation and social distancing is what will be the norm until there is a vaccine.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is of a very different nature than any previous crisis in that it has affected supply, demand and health security and by extension the entire global economy,” Griffiths said, according to UAE state agency WAM. “We’re dealing with a monster here for which we clearly have to find a solution.
“Until there is a proven level of confidence medically that people can travel without fear of spreading or contracting the virus, the situation we find ourselves in is likely to continue.”
The global pandemic has had a significant effect on many industries, particularly air travel, with COVID-19 affecting passenger traffic through Dubai airport, the biggest hub for international travel, in the first quarter of the year. With a recorded 17.8 million customers, that is down 19.8 per cent year on year.
Griffiths believes the way forward on the road to recovery is for governments to reach “bilateral agreements that enable the resumption of services”, which he is confident the UAE government will be able to obtain as the nation “took significant and early steps to get the virus under control”.
As for how long it will take for travel to reach a full recovery, Griffiths said it’s “virtually impossible to forecast” but predicted it could be 18 months to two years, with international travel being “highly dependent” on the development of a vaccine.
“While we can’t predict how quickly or when this will happen, I am optimistic that the innate demand when people realise it is once again safe to travel will be huge,” he said.
“There will come a point where the world will open up again and the desire to travel will be even stronger than it has been in the past and Dubai Airports and the entire aviation community will be ready.”
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