'Calculated risk' to start flying again, says Emirates CEO

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum confident all safety measures in place to ensure safe arrival of tourists

Sheikh Ahmed revealed some hotels had reported 80 percent occupancy from the local market.

The CEO and chairman of Emirates Group has admitted there is “no choice” but to take to the skies once more and help kick-start the Dubai economy, which has been hammered by the impact of Covid-19.

During an interview with CNN’s John Defterios, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the move to bring international tourism back to the emirate comes with obvious elements of risk, but added that Dubai is ready to meet all health and safety requirements.

Asked about the debate between risk and reward, he said: “I think there is no choice, and also, we have to take measures. We always take calculated risk, and I think we have done whatever it takes, really, to ensure that people who come here to be safe.

“I think we did so many tests to make sure also that we are geared for it. At the airport, we’re using the PCRs, people coming in or leaving also to ensure also people leaving here.

“It is our reputation that we want to make sure and also to protect our staff around the airport and the city to feel very happy to do what they’ve been learning over the year.”

To visit Dubai, incoming tourists are required to present a negative test result taken within 96 hours of the flight. If they fail to do so, they can take a test upon arrival, but must self-isolate until an all-clear is received from health authorities.

High hotel occupancy

On Tuesday, Dubai reopened its doors to international visitors in the hopes of reviving its tourism industry after a closure that lasted almost four months.

Hotels have already reported an uptick in enquiries from abroad, but Sheikh Ahmed revealed some hotels had reported 80 percent occupancy from the local market.

“That’s really is very positive from the local market and now also we’d like to see the international businesses really coming back to Dubai and the UAE,” he said.

As part of measures to reintroduce passenger flights, Emirates has stipulated a number of health and safety protocols, including the wearing of face masks for the duration of the flight.

While some countries, particularly the USA, have witnessed demonstrations against wearing masks, Sheikh Ahmed was confident that the measure will become a routine part of the safety precautions when flying.

He said: “I think we have to follow the rules. I think, in the past, if we say that you have to be sitting down when the aircraft is moving or there is a turbulence, you have to fasten your seatbelt, so we have to go. We have to follow the authority, and that’s by law. So, you sit there, you wear a mask.

“You have to protect, also, yourself. We will protect you from the staff side, moving within the aircraft, but also you have to take certain measures when you are in your seats.”

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