Emirates airlines on May 21, 2020 resumed operations after the COVID-19 induced-break, with regularly scheduled passenger flights to nine destinations.
With the resumption the airline also unveiled multi-faceted measures for employee and customer care at every step of the travel journey, redefining safety and hygiene standards on board and on the ground.
“Emirates is implementing a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the traveller’s journey, to enhance the sanitisation of all touchpoints, and ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees.
“The risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is already very low, but we have spared no effort in reviewing and redesigning every step, from check-in to disembarkation. Every measure implemented is an additional reduction in risk, and taken altogether, our aim is really to make flying as safe as possible.
“We are working with all the stakeholders in Dubai – including the airport, immigration, health and aviation authorities to implement such measures, and we will continue to review and consult expert advice for any development and changes.
“We are all aware that we have to adapt to different practices during this pandemic in our day to day activities.
All these measures, in combination with the proactive pandemic management strategies that the UAE has taken, show the seriousness with which we are taking the health and safety of our local and global communities and will give confidence to the public,” the Chief Operating Officer of Emirates, Adel Al Redha, said.
In a statement issued from its headquarters in Dubai, Emirates said it has introduced complimentary hygiene kits to be given to every passenger upon check in at the Dubai International Airport and on flights to Dubai.
These kits comprise of masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. The hygiene kits supplement a slew of additional measures already introduced to keep customers safe.
Gloves and masks are mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport in Dubai, while only masks are mandated on Emirates flights. On arrival at the airport, thermal scanners at various areas monitor the temperatures of all passengers and employees.
Physical distancing indicators have also been placed on the ground and at waiting areas to help travellers maintain the necessary distance at check-in, immigration, boarding and transfer areas.
The airport team has also installed protective barriers at each check-in desk and immigration counter to provide additional safety reassurance to passengers and employees during interaction over the counter.
Customers travelling through Dubai International Airport and transferring onto another flight, will go through thermal screening upon disembarkation. Transfer desks at the airport have also been installed with protective barriers as a precautionary measure.
Airport staff, dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) will direct customers from a safe distance for extra assistance. Customers will be given an additional hygiene kit at the gate before boarding their connecting flight.
The boarding sequence has also been staggered and passengers will now board by row, from the last row to the first, in small numbers. The waiting area has also been modified to ensure all customers observe social distancing.
Emirates boarding agents, dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE), will facilitate the boarding sequence, while the boarding gates are deep cleaned and disinfected after the boarding of every flight, the statement said.
Meanwhile all cabin crew on board will be fully kitted out in PPEs. To uphold the highest standards of safety and hygiene, while Emirates has added a cabin service assistant (CSA) to the crew complement on flights of over One and a half hours.
The CSAs will ensure lavatories are cleaned at frequent intervals of every 45 mins and each lavatory has been equipped with sanitising soap and handwashing instructions.
Further, to minimise the risk of infection by touch, magazines and print reading material will not be available during this time. In premium classes, single use menus and wine lists will be provided to passengers.
Comfort items such as mattresses, pillows, blankets, headphones and toys will be hygienically sealed and Emirates will resume its service with hot meals, using high quality, cutlery and crockery, sterilised before each use, the airline said.
The new normal with respect to cabin baggage is that it will now be checked-in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board. Customers are also reminded to bring pens to fill out Health Declaration Forms required for some destinations.
Emirates says its modern aircraft cabins have been fitted with advanced HEPA air filters which remove 99.97 per cent of viruses and eliminate dust, allergens and germs from cabin air for a healthier and safer on-board environment.
After its journey and on landing in Dubai, each aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes to ensure safety and proper sanitation, according to the airline.
To safeguard its employees, Emirates’ flight and cabin crew have been provided with cars for pick up and drop off at their home at the beginning and end of their duty. Operating crew will check in for their rostered flights in a dedicated crew airport facility before being transported to the aircraft.
Layovers in destination cities have been reduced where possible and on long-haul flights, where layovers are necessary, crew are put up in individual rooms in hotels.
On return to Dubai, where all Emirates cabin crew are based, COVID-19 tests are now to be done on all crew and every crew member has been mandated a 14-day quarantine in their homes after every flight, unless they are on duty.