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Aviation industry could return “to some kind of normality during the course of 2021” - Sir Tim Clark

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 1 June 2020: During the opening session of Arabian Travel Market’s inaugural virtual event, ATM Virtual, aviation industry veteran Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, has outlined the impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, as well as the measures implemented by the company in response to the pandemic.

Speaking during an interview with respected aviation expert John Strickland, Director of JLS Consulting, on the opening day of the virtual event, Sir Tim, said: “I don't think in my career I have seen anything like this, it is a huge structural change to our industry. In general terms, we have seen a US$15 trillion torpedo hit the global economy and its crippled many, many sectors, with transportation and leisure just a few of the casualties.”

“My own belief is there is sufficient resilience in the global economy to take this trauma as long as it doesn’t go on for too long. If we can accept there is a finite point where we will see the back of this, with adjustments to the way we go about our lives, the way we go about our business, and our travel aspirations, we will see things moving back to some kind of normality during the course of 2021,” he added.

With many fleets around the world grounded and potentially some not coming back, Sir Tim, who has dedicated 35 years to growing Emirates Airline to become the largest long-haul airline in the world and helping transform Dubai into a major global travel hub, also discussed the future of the airline.

“Planning for resumption is quite complicated, needless to say, we have a 24/7 watch on it as countries start to relax their access requirements but I see some difficulties as I don’t believe they will open at the pace we would like. I think there will be a degree of what they started to call the bubble effect, i.e. countries selecting other countries that are relatively COVID free and therefore allowing services between those countries.

“We’ve seen the beginning of this and until we get much more clarity on quarantine, flight protocols and how airports are going to handle these passengers when they eventually get moving, it’s still early days in terms of understanding what is going to happen.”

Speaking more generally about the aviation industry, Sir Tim concluded by outlining the important role that governments play around the world, understanding what the airline industry requires, he said:

“The aviation business is in a critical and very fragile state at the moment and needs all the help it can get. Access, getting passengers and freight moving again, not necessarily to the levels pre-COVID, but at least getting things going to give the cash lifelines they need, otherwise I’m not optimistic that some of the carriers here today, having already been significantly bailed out, will get through the next few months.”

The aviation industry will be a recurring theme throughout the three-day virtual event and will include an interview with aviation heavyweight, CEO of Wizz Air, Joszef Varadi on Wednesday 3 June.

Varadi is set to discuss the measures implemented by the budget airline which has enabled it to continue operating during the pandemic. He will also be discussing the forthcoming opening of Wizz Air’s subsidiary in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company.

In addition, a webinar by Cirium, the data intelligence experts, will showcase the power of analytics in supporting business performance.

The webinar, which takes place on the final day of ATM Virtual, will be led by Cirium’s Paul Trewin and Seera Group’s Data Vice President, Louise Blake. The webinar, which will be focused on the aviation industry, and will utilise Cirium’s years of analytical experience, will highlight the power of analytics and outline new ideas for incorporating analytics into team performance.

ATM Virtual features a range of comprehensive webinars, live conference sessions, roundtables, speed networking events, and one-to-one meetings.

Highlights on day two will include The Virtual ATM China Forum, which will focus on the recovery of outbound travel from China, taking place from 11am – 12pm GST (8am – 9am BST) and the debut Travel Forward Virtual event, featuring the ‘Catapulting Resilience Through Technology and Analytics’ session. A live webinar titled ‘Bouncing Back: Tourism Strategies for the Future will see a range of industry experts discussing how the long-term tourism development strategies implemented by the region’s governments will become a catalyst for recovery when travel patterns adjust to the new norm.

Travel Forward will include Facebook-led session, ‘Conversational Commerce for Travel brands’, which will look into the potential of conversational commerce and how it can help businesses keep their customers connected and engaged. The day will conclude with the ‘Technology and the New Normal session, hosted by Uber, which will discuss how technology can support businesses post-Covid-19.

There will also be a series of independently moderated, roundtables designed to discuss emerging hot topics such as domestic travel, luxury travel trends, corporate travel, food travel and tourism recovery plans. Day two will kick-off with the ‘Effects that Covid-19 could have on food-driven travel’ live webinar from 10am – 10.45am GST (7am – 7.45am BST), moderated by Caterer Middle East editor Simon Ritchie.

Also, key travel editors and leading travel and tourism experts have written blogs on topical subjects spanning not just regional but international industry verticals.

The Ministry of Tourism Saudi Arabia and the Italian Tourist Board are both Gold sponsors of ATM Virtual.

ATM Virtual takes place from today, Monday 1st to Wednesday 3rd June 2020. To register for the event, please visit:

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