Emirates announces advanced Covid-19 measures for its return to flight

New travel hygiene kits are amongst the new measures being introduced by Emirates. (EK)

Emirates has released details of its new safety and hygiene standards as the airline resumed regular scheduled passenger flights to nine destinations today (May 21).

It has introduced complimentary hygiene kits that are given to every passenger upon check in at Dubai International Airport (DXB) and its inbound flights to DXB. The kits comprise of masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser.

Gloves and masks are mandatory for all customers and employees at Dubai, although only masks are mandated on Emirates flights. On arrival at the airport, thermal scanners at various areas monitor the temperatures of all passengers and employees. Physical distancing indicators have been placed on the ground and at waiting areas to help travellers maintain the necessary distance at check-in, immigration, boarding and transfer areas.

Its airport team has also installed protective barriers at each check-in desk and immigration counter to provide additional safety reassurance to passengers and employees during interaction over the counter.

The boarding sequence has been staggered and passengers board by row, from the last row to the first, in small numbers. The waiting area has also been modified to ensure all customers observe social distancing. Emirates boarding agents, dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE), will facilitate the boarding sequence. The boarding gates are deep cleaned and disinfected after the boarding of every flight.

Transfer passengers travelling via DXB will also pass through the thermal screening upon disembarkation. Its transfer desks been installed with protective barriers as a precautionary measure. Emirates said that airport staff, dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE), will direct customers from a safe distance for extra assistance. Customers will be given an additional hygiene kit at the gate before boarding their connecting flight.

All cabin crew on board will be fully kitted out in PPEs and, to uphold these new safety and hygiene standards, Emirates has added a cabin service assistant (CSA) to the crew complement on flights over 1.5 hours. The CSAs will ensure lavatories are cleaned at frequent intervals of every 45 mins. Each lavatory has been equipped with sanitising soap and hand washing instructions.

To minimise the risk of infection by touch, magazines and print reading material will not be available during this time. In premium classes, single use menus and wine lists will be provided to passengers. Comfort items such as mattresses, pillows, blankets, headphones and toys will be hygienically sealed. Emirates added that it will resume its hot meal service using high quality, cutlery and crockery, sterilised before each use.

Cabin baggage has to be checked-in, and passengers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board. The airline is asking customers to bring pens with them to fill out the health declaration forms that are required for some destinations.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer, commented: “Emirates is implementing a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the traveller’s journey, to enhance the sanitisation of all touchpoints, and ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees. The risk of catching an infection on an aircraft is already very low, but we have spared no effort in reviewing and redesigning every step, from check-in to disembarkation. Every measure implemented is an additional reduction in risk, and taken altogether, our aim is really to make flying as safe as possible.

“We are working with all the stakeholders in Dubai – including the airport, immigration, health and aviation authorities to implement such measures, and we will continue to review and consult expert advice for any development and changes.

“We are all aware that we have to adapt to different practices during this pandemic in our day to day activities. All these measures, in combination with the proactive pandemic management strategies that the UAE has taken, show the seriousness with which we are taking the health and safety of our local and global communities and will give confidence to the public,”

As is the case with most modern airliners, Emirates’ aircraft cabins are fitted with advanced HEPA air filters which remove 99.97% of viruses and eliminate dust, allergens and germs from cabin air for a healthier and safer on-board environment. After its journey and on landing in Dubai, each aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes to ensure better sanitation levels.