How a 'COVID-19 passport' could be the future of air travel


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.06 3 Sep 2020


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The head of Emirates in Ireland says Irish people will continue to travel, but the way it's done may have to change.

The Dubai-based carrier flies to 157 destinations around the world - including Dublin - and employs some 59,000 people.

Enda Corneille is Emirates country manager for Ireland.

He told Pat Kenny: "We live in a beautiful country but it's hardly a substitute for the white sand of the Seychelles beach, the warm water of the Indian Ocean or that 'whoosh' of warm air when the doors of the aircraft are open in Dubai.

"But it will change: maybe people will focus on one major overseas holiday per year rather than lots of weekends away.

"We might see a COVID passport scheme where everyone flying is all-clear, masks may continue to be required on-board.

"But we got used to restrictions such as not carrying our liquids in our hand baggage after 9/11, so people are very resilient, people know that things will have to change.

"But it'll definitely come back".

"Overseas travel will definitely return, there's no doubt about that.

"I think it's a matter of when and... what it'll look like.

"Emirates is a carrier that has made the world smaller, bringing destinations like Australia and the Far East much more accessible to Irish passengers and Irish tourists.

"That's going to continue, people like to travel."

He said while more people are connecting remotely, business travel will also come back eventually.

"I think even since March people are getting fatigued from using Zoom and using Teams and are longing for that social contact.

"In terms of doing business, many industries, it's really all about the face to face.

"We carry a lot of customers from the aircraft leasing business really doing big deals - that's difficult stuff to do online.

"So I think it has a role, but once companies are comfortable for their people to travel, that airlines are fulfilling their duty of care, people will travel."

He said cabin air onboard is changed every two minutes using hospital-standard filters.

But that there is always room for improvement.

"I think you saw that when fuel began to rise, aircraft manufacturers began to focus much more on making aircraft lighter so they were more fuel efficient.

"This is another situation where manufacturers will see what can be done".

"Over the medium-term, certainly there's an opportunity there for innovative manufacturers to see what else can be done to again reassure customers and passengers".

Main image: An Emirates Boeing 777 airplane at Seychelles International Airport in the Seychelles. Picture by: Markus Mainka/DPA/PA Images

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Air Travel COVID-19 Passport Covid-19 Emirates Emirates Ireland Enda Corneille Future Of Air Travel Pat Kenny

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