Dubai’s Emirates airline has around 500,000 refund requests pending and is using its cash reserves to speed up processing, according to a statement from the airline issued on Sunday.
Before the coronavirus pandemic caused major disruption to international aviation, the airline has been processing 35,000 refund requests on average each month. It is now planning to handle 150,000 per month, read the statement.
All flights out of the UAE were suspended on March 23 as officials moved to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. Emirates and other Gulf airlines have begun to offer some flights out of the UAE for those looking to return last week, but incoming flights are still unavailable except for government-organized repatriations.
“It is a difficult time for us, as it is for all airlines. We are dipping into our cash reserves by being proactive in processing refunds,” said Emirates President Sir. Tim Clark.
On April 15, the airline announced new options for travelers who have flight tickets issued before May 31 for travel before August 31, allowing them to either keep, exchange, or request a full refund for the tickets.
Customers who keep the ticket can rebook the flight for within two years from the day the ticket was originally issued.
Travel vouchers are valid for one year from the date the voucher was issued and are valid for any Emirates product or service, which means customers can use them to offset charges for flights to any destination in any cabin class, or other services.
The refund option is available if customers are unable to travel and will be applied without penalties.
“The situation was dynamic in the early weeks of the pandemic, but we have since re-written our COVID-19 waiver policy into a simple, globally-applied approach … We’ve also proactively contacted those of our customers who had submitted earlier requests for refunds or booking changes, to let them know of the new options available to them,” Clark added.
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