Emirates progressed on its recovery path in 2021, rebuilding its passenger network to 128 cities by December including a new route to Miami launched in July.
At the end of 2021, all of Emirates’ 133 Boeing 777 aircraft and nearly 60 of its A380 fleet are in active service, connecting people to their loved ones and businesses to global opportunities. In addition, over 120 lounges and partner facilities have re-opened to serve the airline’s premium customers and frequent flyers, according to a statement from the UAE carrier.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: “Despite the recent rise of the Omicron variant and the slight slowdown it brought to our network, we are going into 2022 with optimism. We’ve built up some great momentum this year and expect business growth to pick up speed in 2022.
“Aviation has always been resilient, and we will continue to work with our industry partners to build back better for our customers and communities.”
Here’s highlighting seven ways Emirates has helped customers fly better, and support communities and the industry in 2021:
1. Travel ease and confidence: Emirates extended its rebooking waivers, the expiry of frequent flyer miles and tier status, and complimentary Covid-19 medical cover for all customers. emirates.com remains a top reference site for the latest travel requirements, updated at least once daily with information verified by on-site teams across its network.
The airline also accelerated digital initiatives to provide customers with smoother and safer journeys – being the first airline to implement the IATA Travel Pass across its network on six continents; expanding its biometrics and contactless touchpoints at Dubai airport, and partnering with Al Hosn app to enable quick and secure digital verification of Covid-19 travel documents.
2. Investment and innovation: In January, its Premium Economy entered service. In November, it announced a retrofit programme to equip 105 aircraft with Premium Economy seats and latest cabin interiors. The airline launched a sky-high stunt that captured the internet’s imagination featuring an Emirates cabin crew on the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
It also launched the first airline virtual reality app in the Oculus store offering customers an immersive experience of what they can expect onboard.
3. Partnerships: Helping travellers access more destinations, Emirates joined hands with new interline and codeshare partners – Aeromar, airBaltic, Airlink, Azul, Cemair, Garuda, Gulf Air, South African Airways, TAP Portugal; and reinforced existing partnerships with Qantas and flydubai.
It also signed agreements and launched initiatives to support tourism to Seychelles, Maldives, Indonesia and Costa Rica.
4. Supporting global communities: Ensuring communities get rapid access to Covid-19 vaccines and other medical supplies, Emirates helped form the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance, and signed an MoU with UNICEF to prioritise vaccine transport for the COVAX initiative which focuses on the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
By December, the airline had transported 600 million doses of vaccines on its flights to over 80 destinations. In May, it established a humanitarian airbridge to support India in its pandemic response.
An early champion of Covid-19 vaccination, it ran programmes to encourage its workforce to vaccinate to protect themselves and their communities and enable a safe return to travel. In February, Emirates operated a special flight operated by fully vaccinated employees to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination and showcase the success of the UAE’s vaccination drive.
5. Sustainability: The airline partnered with Falcon Aircraft Recycling and Wings Craft to upcycle its first retired A380 aircraft entirely in the UAE, reducing waste to landfill and environmental impact. It also announced at the Dubai Airshow an initiative with GE Aviation to conduct a test flight fully powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on its Boeing 777 aircraft.
It also has various ongoing initiatives to reduce fuel burn and emissions, and ensure the responsible use of resources. This includes its longstanding use of sustainable blankets made from 100% recycled plastic bottles in Economy Class, and its latest amenity kit bags which contain items made from sustainable materials like wheat straw and rice paper.
6. Future of aviation: Building a pipeline of commercial pilots, Emirates Flight Training Academy graduated its 50th cadet with its second cohort of cadets this year. In October, the airline hosted global aviation security stakeholders at the 5th AVESEC Global Symposium to share best practice in strengthening capabilities amid pandemic challenges.
It also continued to support Intelak and Aviation X-lab – incubator programmes focussed on future solutions for travel and aviation.
7. Bringing the world together at Expo: The Expo 2020 Dubai opened in October, and visits to the mega-event have climbed to eight million. Through various initiatives, including programs to encourage visitation from small- and medium-sized businesses, Emirates continues to bring the world to Dubai for the Expo. It is also showcasing future aviation technology concepts at its Pavilion.