Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Dubai carrier Emirates said on Sunday it has dramatically cut its passenger flight destinations to 13, down from 145.
It's a pivotal move that reflects the dramatic slowdown in traffic through the airline's hub in Dubai, the world's busiest international airport, due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
The state-owned carrier said it will still fly to the US, the UK Japan, Australia and Canada. The company had just hours earlier announced a suspension of all passenger flights, but reversed that decision after receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travelers.
The United Arab Emirates , which is home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has all but closed its borders to travelers with exceptions for those transiting through or Emirates returning.
The state-owned carrier said it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world. It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.
"By March 25 (Wednesday), although we will still operate cargo flights, which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended all its passenger operations," the airline's chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.
"We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services." Emirates passenger flights normally serve 159 destinations.
The United Arab Emirates on Friday announced its first two deaths from the COVID-19 disease, having reported 153 infections so far, of which 38 people have recovered.
Maktoum said that, until January this year, the Emirates Group was "doing well" against current financial year targets, but "COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past six weeks."
"The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak," he said.
The airline will attempt to welcome as many nationalities as possible onto flight EK2019, for a special flight journey around the UAE.
Emirates is stepping up precautionary measures at the airport and on board to ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
Emirates airline has partnered with Uber to offer UAE travellers discounted airport transfers this summer. Emirates Economy Class Flex Plus and Economy Class Flex customers can avail free or discounted airport rides to and from DXB on bookings made starting from June 2 until July 31, for travel until Aug.31.
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983. With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
With the Hajj Committee announcing full refunds of the fees for the ensuing Hajj 2020 season, the pilgrimage dreams of thousands of Muslim faithful are shattered.
The group were travelling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said. A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the media.