Most travellers have had their wings crunched this year. But as jetsetting slowly returns, carriers which have the funding and incentive to keep running flights (even, likely, at a loss, as most holiday makers are either prohibited or unwilling to book trips right now) like Qatar Airways and Emirates are competing to grab market share and to make the most of their resources.
Qatar Airways recently unleashed an outrageous new way for customers to experience its private jet program and introduced Hazmat suits to its commercial jets to add another layer of bio-security to its operations.
Emirates has now come out with another drawcard of its own, aimed at boosting “travel confidence” around the world: it has announced it will start paying for passengers’ medical and quarantine bills, should a customer become sick with COVID-19 or be forced to cough up thousands of dollars for hotel quarantine.
Specifically, Emirates will cover medical expenses of almost AU$245,000 and quarantine hotel costs of about AU$160 per day for 14 days, should passengers be diagnosed with The Virus during their trip.
As CNN Travel reports, this cover is available to all passengers and “is valid for 31 days from the moment they fly the first leg of their trip, so passengers can continue to have the benefit even if they travel onwards from their Emirates destination.”
As News.com.au reports, if travel restrictions were loosened (Australians currently can’t fly anywhere anyway), this would be game changing; “Currently in NSW, return travellers now need to pay around $3000 in hotel quarantine fees, as well as a further $1000 for an additional adult and $500 for an additional child.”
“In Queensland, the new cost for return travellers – which includes accommodation and daily meals – is $2,800 for 1 adult, $3,710 for 2 adults, and $4,620 for 2 adults and 2 children.”
However, Emirates will not continue this initiative through to a time when a more substantial chunk of the population will actually be travelling. As DMARGE recently reported, in a best case scenario Australian borders would open once again in January 2021 (with hotel quarantine requirements).
Emirates’ cover though, will only be valid from now until October the 31st, 2020.
While Emirates is the first carrier to take this step to offer COVID coverage, it’s not the first contender in the tourism industry to offer such an initiative.
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As CNN Travel reports, “Central Asian nation Uzbekistan has promised the sum of $3,000 as compensation to visitors who contract Covid-19 while vacationing there.”
“The Mediterranean island of Cyprus, meanwhile, which reopened its borders to selected countries in June, is pledging to cover the cost of lodging, food, drink and medication for visitors who test positive for the virus during their stay.”
This also comes in a context where Emirates doesn’t have the domestic routes to sustain it through a time like this like airlines like Qantas or American Airlines do. It is also one of the world’s richest carriers (enabling it to continue operating).
This may explain its persistence in running international flights.
As aviation expert Rico Merkert recently confirmed to DMARGE, continuing to operate flights right now has been “great for brand building and grabbing market share.” It is also “harder to gain customers than to lose them in this business (once loyalty schemes and a decent product come into play),” Professor Merkert added.
“They… understand the importance of aviation to their economy (as a hub with some pretty new and expensive infrastructure sitting there and lots of competition from the UAE and other places),” the Sydney University Professor of Transport and Supply Chain Management told DMARGE, referring to Qatar Airways.
This latest move by Emirates suggests the Dubai Flagship carrier may be taking the same tack.