EMIRATES has suspended most of its passenger flights to various international destinations across the globe, including Lusaka, effective Wednesday, March 25.

In a statement released, Sunday, the Dubai-based carrier announced its planned cancellations of passenger flights due to take effect today, Wednesday.

The airline, however stated that cargo operations would continue as normal.

“Emirates retains cargo operations, but temporarily suspends most passenger operations by 25 March…including temporary closure of operations at some international locations where demand is low,” read the statement.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Emirates and dnata have been adapting operations in line with regulatory directives as well as travel demand. The airline has aimed to maintain passenger flights for as long as feasible to help travellers return home amidst an increasing number of travel bans, restrictions, and country lockdowns across the world. It continues to maintain vital international air cargo links for economies and communities, deploying its fleet of 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world. With many of its airline customers dramatically reducing flights or ceasing services altogether, dnata has also significantly reduced its operations, including temporarily shutting some offices across its international network.”

Commenting on the development, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum explained that the airline could not viably operate passenger services until countries re-opened their borders and travel confidence was fully restored.

“The world has literally gone into quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an unprecedented crisis situation in terms of breadth and scale: geographically, as well as from a health, social, and economic standpoint. Until January 2020, the Emirates Group was doing well against our current financial year targets. But COVID-19 has brought all that to a sudden and painful halt over the past six weeks. As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns. By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights, which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended most of its passenger operations. We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services,” stated Maktoum.

And when reached for comment, the airline’s PR agency, Langmead & Baker’s consultant Gillian Langmead, stated that no other information could be given to explain the number of Emirates workers domiciled in Zambia that would be affected resulting from the flight suspension.