Jean-Pierre Martin, General manager Emirates Belgium and Luxembourg, communicated with the European press and stated that Emirates’ approach was based on a three-pronged plan of action.
He said Emirates is committed to environmental stewardship and, despite the pandemic, will continue to make “progress” in the attainment of our environmental goals. “The COVID-19 crisis offers an opportunity to foster a more efficient and resilient industry which can respond better to near and long term challenges, including restoring traveler confidence and more efficient air connectivity,” he said.
Its environmental strategy focuses efforts under three areas: reducing emissions, consuming responsibly and preserving wildlife and habitats.
“As an airline, reducing carbon emissions is central to our strategy. We have a long-running and proactive fuel efficiency programme,” he said. “Our various initiatives last year resulted in a reduction in fuel consumption by 71,000 tonnes, equivalent to a reduction of 224,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.”
Operating modern and fuel-efficient aircraft has been at the heart of Emirates’ business model. This ongoing, multi-billion dollar investment is our biggest commitment – not only to passenger comfort, but also to reducing the airline’s environmental impact.
He also spoke of the travel restrictions such as quarantine imposed by some member states, including the UK, saying it will continue to work closely with international and local authorities to responsibly and gradually resume passenger operations. A Top priority remains the health and safety of customers, crew and the communities it serves.
He wants to see a coordinated approach of the travel restrictions at a European level. Today EU countries have different approaches towards travel to countries outside the EU. Some countries allow or tolerate travel to the world, some countries like Belgium, do not allow travel outside the European borders. This, he states, has a huge impact on its operations in Brussels: although customers demand, leisure passengers are not allowed to travel.
From a local Belgian perspective, the zones (red, orange, green) are only defined for the EU countries. Any other country outside the EU is considered as red zone by default meaning that travel is forbidden from any Belgian airport. All non-EU countries are evaluated as red by default, without distinctions or nuances, he says.
He asks, “Why could we (the Belgian competent authorities) not evaluate if travel is safe by country and apply the same intra-Europe evaluation criteria to those countries outside Europe?”
Currently, tourists are not allowed to leave Belgium to, for example, Thailand, Mauritius, Australia or Dubai. Should the Belgian authorities have a “nuanced” approach, travel to these countries or some of them might be allowed with or without restrictions, depending on the requested evaluation, he said.
Emirates is the flag carrier of the UAE and is based in Dubai. One of the world’s largest airlines it employs about 60,000 and serves nearly 160 destinations.