Over the seven-month period starting April, Emirates received, validated, and processed 1.7 million refund requests. This resulted in the airline returning AED 6.3 billion, an equivalent of 1.72 billion US Dollars refunds to its customers.
Of this sum, AED 4.7 billion was refunded to customers who had booked directly with the airline, and the remainder was returned via travel agencies, as the agency felt the weight of Covid-19 that has hit hard on the aviation sector.
Emirates says it managed over 130,000 refund-related queries from customers and travel agency partners and made status changes to nearly 4 million flight coupons. This just a dot of what most airlines are going through with cancelations.
At the peak of its project, Emirates had 110 personnel dedicated to validating and processing refunds, massively increased from the 19-person team pre-pandemic. The airline managed this by internally moving personnel from other functions to assist in this endeavor.
“In the early months of 2020, COVID-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refund requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates. It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from the drastically reduced operation,” Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said.
Early this week, the airline announced that it will offer its customers another industry-first: a multi-risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover, at no charge, on all tickets purchased on or from 1 December 2020. It is the first airline to offer an insurance cover for Covid-19 for its passengers.
In addition to COVID-19 medical cover, the new offer has provisions for personal accidents during travel, winter sports cover, loss of personal belongings, and trip disruptions due to unexpected air space closure, travel recommendations or advisories, similar to other multi-risk travel insurance products.
“Thanks to the efforts of our refunds and customer service teams, the support and co-operation of our partners, and the understanding of our customers, Emirates has now cleared our backlog of refunds. We still have higher volumes of refunds and flight coupon change requests compared to pre-pandemic times, but we now have the capability to manage these within a 7-day turnaround,” added Clark.