Updated Mar 22, 2020 - Health

Emirates to suspend most passenger flights due to coronavirus pandemic

Photo: Krafft Angerer/Getty Images

Emirates, one of the largest long-haul airlines in the world, retracted its announcement Sunday temporarily suspending all passenger flights, now saying it will defer "most" routes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Airlines have been reducing flights at unprecedented rates in order to stop the spread of the virus and as a result of low demand.

Details:

  • The carrier will still fly to the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and Canada, a reversal after receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travelers, AP reports.
  • The Dubai government-owned Emirates, which is the largest airline in the Middle East, said its employees will receive up to 50% salary reduction for three months, but that it will not cut jobs.

What they're saying:

"The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint. Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets. But COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past 6 weeks."
"Emirates Group has a strong balance sheet, and substantial cash liquidity, and we can, and will, with appropriate and timely action, survive through a prolonged period of reduced flight schedules, so that we are adequately prepared for the return to normality.”
— Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates Group

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to note Emirates' change from "all" passenger flight cancellations to "most."

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Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

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United Airlines to cut capacity by 50% over the coronavirus

A United Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in Burlingame, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines said in a statement Sunday it will cut capacity by about 50% for April and May from Monday, as the airline sees a drop in demand because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: The announcement comes after Delta Airlines announced Friday it would reduce its flight capacity by 40% for the next four months over the outbreak. United said even with the cuts it announced, "we're expecting load factors to drop into the 20–30% range — and that's if things don't get worse."

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with more comment from United and context.

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