By Omnia al Desoukie
Dubai, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- Facing their darkest period since the 9/11 attacks, United Arab Emirates-based airlines are racing to offset the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In recent days, Emirates in Dubai and Etihad in Abu Dhabi have been trialling initiatives to test passengers prior to departure
This initiative comes at a difficult moment for the airline industry, which faces an uncertain future and an almost certain economic crisis.
On Wednesday, Emirates carried out 10-minute tests on passengers before boarding a flight from Dubai to Tunis, becoming the first to run medical assessments in situ passengers.
It has announced plans to expand testing to other flights to “provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require Covid-19 test certificates.”
On 6 April, Etihad announced a new technology to detect symptoms among passengers using equipment to check passengers’ temperature, pulse and breathing.
The moves both companies have taken could set trends, Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at the StrategicAero Research tells Efe.
“As testing kits evolve and provide faster results, it will mean all airlines around the globe will almost certainly employ a similar strategy to ensure the wellbeing of all passengers as well as crew,” he says.
Until a real medical solution to COVID-19 is developed, measures like this will become in sync with the liquid ban that has been in place for well over a decade, he adds
“Until we get a vaccine for Covid-19. Airlines and airports will have to change the way they operate to gain the confidence of the travelling public in order to get them flying again,” Tim Coombs, Director at Aviation Economics says to Efe.
The worldwide sector will have around $250 billion in losses, according to the International Air Transport Association’s estimations.
Therefore, it has called on the governments to support the sector, which will face $23 billion loss in the Middle East.
The aviation and tourism industry accounts for 13 percent of the UAE’s GDP. UAE enormously depends on oil and gas.
Dubai, the country’s economic capital that hosts regional headquarters of many multinationals, has become a hub of international transportation.
“Emirates is in a rather fortunate position in that it has a financial war chest amounting to $6bn in cash. Not many airlines can attest the same,” Ahmed adds.
“But given the on-going costs of grounding airplanes, and little revenue coming in, that money won’t last forever”.
The scope of the economic impact is not clear yet, many people either have lost their jobs already or will do.
There are also doubts over the impact of the crisis on leisure and business trips as thousands of companies have settle for virtual meetings.
A world with more virtual meetings and less movement would represent a large loss to the airlines.