27 OCTOBER, 2022

What next for the post pandemic traveller? 

Emirates Country Manager for Zambia, Omar Bushlaibi

Q&A with Emirates Country Manager for Zambia Omar Bushlaibi 

Lusaka, Zambia – The holiday season is fast approaching, with it some of the busiest times for the local and global travel and tourism industries. And as more travellers regain the confidence to venture out into the world, interesting new dynamics of travel can be seen emerging within the travel industry. Adaptation and innovation are the order of the day as the industry works to meet customer needs and requirements. 

A growing number of customers are taking more control of their travel and logistics plans using new platforms and services now available to them.  

  1. What differences can be seen in how passengers manage their travel now compared with the pre-COVID days? And how has Emirates adapted to ensure efficiency and more value for customers? 
    The pandemic brought about the need for caution and lessened contact while travelling, calling for airlines to empower customers with options that not only reassured but also ensured their safety and make it easier to travel in spite of the challenges. .  
    Over a year ago Emirates began its smart contactless journey with touchless self-check-in and bag drop kiosks at Dubai International Airport. The 32 self-service bag drop machines and 16 check-in kiosks can be controlled completely by personal mobile devices without touching the screens; providing a safe and convenient airport experience. 
    The kiosks allow customers to check-in, receive their boarding pass, choose seats on board, drop off their bags, and make payments for ancillary purchases, such as additional baggage allowance. 
    There is also an integrated biometric path through Dubai Airport using the latest facial biometric technology, enabling passengers to check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport.  
  2. What can travellers expect from Emirates in terms of health measures? 
    Even with relaxed restrictions around the world, we continue to take the health and safety of our customers very seriously. We’ve of course removed our mask mandate onboard, however continue to enforce protocols and requirements of the final destinations that our customers are flying to. Travellers journeying from Emirates’ Terminal 3 at DXB can expect a seamless, frictionless experience across numerous touchpoints with our touchless check-in and biometric path.  
  3. Do you ever think we will see a time when we go back to ‘business as usual’ or has a whole new era set in for the airline industry? 
    Business in Emirates’ view has never been ‘as usual’ and it is a reality that the dynamics are always shifting whether at a local or global level, not just during the pandemic, but also with the current geo-political and macro-economic headwinds we’re seeing around the world.   
    Emirates is constantly innovating and our commitment to provide the best in experience, both on the ground and in the sky, remains unwavering. The inflight experience aims at making the customer feel at ease throughout their journey  no matter what cabin class they are flying.  
    The airline was recently awarded the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022 World’s Best Economy Class, World’s Best Economy Class Catering, and for the 17th consecutive time, World’s Best Inflight Entertainment. 
    We further announced that we are investing over US$2 billion to enhance our inflight customer experience. This includes one of the largest retrofit projects in aviation history spanning 120 aircraft that will soon sport Emirates’ latest interior concepts; a new hospitality-focused service delivery model; and best-in-class product enhancements across all cabins, starting this year.  
    Emirates will also be investing over US$350 million in next-generation inflight entertainment systems with Thales for passengers to experience our massive range of 5,000 channels on high-definition screens, along with a host of other high-tech features on our incoming fleet of A350 aircraft.     
  4. In terms of business travellers, what new opportunities and developments can they leverage post pandemic? 
    There is no doubt businesses have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and will need all the support they can garner post-pandemic. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) can make use of offers such as the Emirates Business Rewards programme, taking advantage of a wealth of benefits including easy enrolment, accessible earning and redemptions, and flexibility and upgrade opportunities – even on last minute bookings – that enable organisations to earn points on business travel, which can be spent on future flights and upgrades on any Emirates flight, in any class, subject to availability. 
    Importers and exporters can further make use of Emirates SkyCargo’s new channel to directly access and book flights for cargo shipments, in a digital-led move to enhance user experience and booking efficiency. Working with WebCargo by Freightos, the industry’s largest air cargo booking platform, Emirates SkyCargo customers will have quick and easy direct access to the cargo airline’s flights and inventory to make direct bookings. 
    Businesses can also benefit from our ever-expanding network and providing more connectivity options as we increase capacity and frequencies with demand picking up.  
    Innovations such as these will be key in helping economies recover as well as open up more opportunities for global trade and industry. 
  5. What exciting new routes can Emirates customers look forward to? 
    We launched Tel Aviv on 23 June. We have restarted services to  Bali (1 May), London Stansted (1 August) and will soon be reacting Rio de Janeiro (2 November), and Buenos Aires (2 November). We’re also boosting services and directing capacity to key cities across our network where we see strong travel demand. Today, our A380 network stands at over 30 destinations.  
    Seamless connectivity is the heart of the travel industry and Emirates operates one of the most diverse networks in the world, with Dubai serving as its hub. Emirates has entered into partnership with United Airlines, opening up hundreds of destinations and seamless connections within the US and around the world. From November, Emirates customers flying from Dubai to Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston – three of the biggest business hubs in the US – will be able to easily connect with United flights to and from nearly 200 cities across the Americas on a single ticket. 
    United will launch a new direct flight between Newark and Dubai starting in March 2023 – from there, customers will be able to travel on Emirates or its sister airline flydubai to more than 100 cities. 
    The airline has also recently launched a new codeshare partnership with AEGEAN allowing its customers to benefit from increased connectivity to eight domestic Greek destinations via Athens and that will include eight more European regional routes via Athens, including Bucharest, Belgrade and Naples, among others, as well as westwards on Emirates’ flights to New York Newark from Athens, and New York JFK from Milan thus allowing customers more connectivity on a single ticket.  
    We’ve also been adding flight frequency to meet customer demand and improve network connectivity through our Dubai hub. In Jan 2022, we were operating about 2,100 weekly departures network-wide, and by end of December we’re expecting to expand our flying schedule to about 2,900 weekly departures. 


About Emirates
The Emirates story started in 1985 when we launched operations with just two aircraft. Today, we fly the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, offering our customers the comforts of the latest and most efficient wide-body aircraft in the skies.
We inspire travelers around the world with our growing network of worldwide destinations, industry leading inflight entertainment, regionally inspired cuisine, and world-class service.
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