Tim Clark
Sir Timothy Clark, President, Emirates Airlines, at the Plenary session on ‘What is the Next Destination for Aviation?’ at the Day 1 of Government Summit at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Emirates airline, which is owned by the Dubai government, said it will continue to operate flights to Russia ‘unless told otherwise’.

“The ownership has not directed us to do otherwise and so as long as we are not told not to operate to Russia, we will continue to do so,” said Emirates President Tim Clark during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Emirates’ partner airlines – flydubai and S7 have suspended certain flights to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus due to the closure of airspace over these areas.

Emirates is currently flying humanitarian goods, NGO workers, and diplomats in and out of Russia, said Clark. “A lot of the developing world, which is perhaps not part of the sanctions regime, needs to deal with Russia in their own way, so all we're doing is being an enabler facilitator.”

Clark said that the airline will be able to ‘manage through’ the current high oil prices, which have stayed firmly above $100 a barrel due to the current conflict.

The higher oil prices, along with the pandemic, will also affect airlines’ ability to continue flying larger jets such as the Airbus A380. Emirates received the delivery of its 123rd A380 jumbo jet in December last year.

Clark put all those doubts to rest. “In the time we have had them and prior to the pandemic, they have produced about 80 per cent of our profits''

“They are going to be more unique going forward (because) the consumer demand for these airplanes is astronomical,” said Clark. “We're going to refurbish them, refresh them, (and) put more innovation into them.”

Quick resolution

The aviation veteran is in favour of a quick resolution to the Ukraine crisis.

“We're now seeing a resurgence of demand across all the countries on our network and the segments within those, but at the same time, we have the Ukrainian issue which is possibly more serious in terms of civil aviation,” said Clark. “The exclusion of Russia in the future will cause a tectonic shift in the way airlines and aviation go about their business.”

“Like all major traumas that faced the global community in the last 70 years, there will be a resolution to this one way or the other, they cannot go on indefinitely,” he added.