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Emirates and Other Airlines: Comparative Analysis

Emirates Versus Etihad Competitive Airline

At the beginning of the pandemic, Etihad airline was forced to ground all their aeroplanes in an aim to help combat the spread of the virus. Since then, the world has witnessed borders closing everywhere, thousands of COVID 19 cases have been reported in almost every country, and the shattering of the travel industry for a while. However, the airline has continued to take steps in the right direction to ensure that they offer their customers solutions that are centred around problems resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic (Kleps, 2021). These solutions include being more involved with organizations such as International Air Transport Association (IATA), instituting a negative PCR as a requirement for travellers using their airlines, and creating and promoting a wellness program.

The airline has had quite a journey since the onset of the deadly pandemic. The United Arab Emirates closed its airspace at the beginning of the pandemic, meaning the airlines operating in and out of the UAE had to ground their whole fleet. Etihad airlines opted to use the grounding as a chance to carry out heavy maintenance on their fleet as a way of refreshing them. Upon reopening the UAE and borders to any countries, the airline has taken precautions to mitigate the spread of the pandemic onboard their airplanes. The cabin crew members are required to put on masks and each one of them to wear personal protective attires while limiting interactions between the cabin crew members and their passengers. All this while ensuring they can maintain high standards of service while going forward.

Etihad Airlines partnered with the IATA in the development and utilization of Digital passports for travellers, this was aimed at creating a uniform manner of categorizing vaccination, travel and COVID 19 tests. The airline started the COVID 19 global insurance cover meant to take care of the airline’s customers who test negative for the virus while on their trip. The Etihad Airlines customers who contracted the virus would not have to worry about any medical or quarantine expenses while flying with the airline. Due to COVID 19, the airline offers PCR tests included in all of their airline tickets that are booked by their clients (Alarabiya News, 2021). The airline’s Life Medical Diagnostic Center offers COVID 19 testing that is convenient 48-96 hours before departure (Etihad Airways, 2021). Those passengers in the first class or business class get to choose between having the tests done in their homes or pay for the testing with their tickets and have them done at the airport.

Emirates Versus Lufthhansa Flag Carrier

A flag carrier is an airline that enjoys privileges by the government and other authorities for international operations. Lufthansa is Germany’s national carrier and its flag carrier. In combination with its subsidiaries, the German airline is the second-largest airline company in Europe. Although both airlines are national carriers of Saudi Arabia, Emirates, and Germany, Lufthansa, they have taken varied approaches to deal with the pandemic. The airline has come up with a strategy that is regarded as strategic realignment instead of crisis management (Akbar & Kisilowski, 2020). Lufthansa’s operations have hugely been affected and they have been forced to reduce fleet size. Furthermore, both airlines have also embarked on the conversion of passenger planes into cargo planes to continue operations and maintain a large fleet size in operation. This is a strategic move as it has enabled them to take advantage of the growing demand for international cargo aircraft.

The company embarked on maintaining business continuity after the onset of the pandemic. Instead of cancelling flight schedules completely, the airline has adopted a weekly schedule based on the market demands and government restrictions in the regions of operation (Bacq et al., 2020). The company can undertake this through the use of advanced technology, which can schedule, and codeshare management system supports even during a pandemic or crisis. This means that the company has built its operations of crisis management and tolerance and the coronavirus pandemic has been an opportunity to prove it.

The company has implemented a work from home program for employees who can be able to work remotely to allow continued delivery of services. This is important because the interruptions in operations as offices have to be regularly fumigated has not affected the airline’s ability to continue providing services for its huge client base. Lufthansa has also embraced technology to help in the strategic management of its operations during the pandemic. Through Lufthansa System’s Expertise technology, the company has been able to predict the markets which are growing and those that are shrinking. This has enabled the company to capitalize on growing markets and improve revenue collections across the different markets globally.

Emirates Versus EasyJet Budget Airline

Although the airlines business has faced a huge impact as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, budget airlines have performed fairly well. This can be attributed to the fact that most budget airlines operate local routes which were not heavily affected by the lockdown and international travel bans imposed by different governments. However, the budget airlines had to adjust to the new COVID 19 protocols to ensure that they can continue operating in their routes as before (Albers & Rundshagen, 2020). One of the budget airlines that has been able to compete favourably as compared to the Emirates is EasyJet. The framework to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic effects is based on a four-pillar strategy which is to reduce flight operations, reduce fleet size, reduce the workforce, and optimize the network ability and capacity of the airline.

EasyJet is a British multinational budget airline that flies numerous routes across 30 countries in Europe. As part of the pandemic response plans, the airline reduced the number of flights made and cancelled most flights in response to government directives in different countries. The airline reduced its capacity to about 30% of its normal operations (Budd et al., 2020). Therefore, the airline tried to find ways to increase its capacity. Furthermore, the airline alongside Ryanair and British Airways launched a legal lawsuit seeking to overturn quarantine policies. The airline has also tried implementing an expansion program to increase the number of destinations and flight frequencies. However, as a result of the pandemic restrictions, this move will be reconsidered by the airline and instead reduce the fleet size by 14% to 302 aircraft (Budd et al., 2020). The major hurdle to this plan is the quarantine and movement restriction policies in Europe.

Just like Emirates, EasyJet has also had to reduce the number of employees significantly as a result of the reduction in operations. EasyJet has cut down its employee numbers by 30% which is in line with its planned operations reduction of 30% (Budd et al., 2020). The reduction in operations will help the company to stay afloat. Low budget airlines do not major in cargo operations and as a result, EasyJet has not made big inroads in cargo shipping (Russell, 2020). The aviation industry has faced a lot of challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the response to the pandemic is important as it outlines the airline’s ability to adapt to changing times and still provide services to its customers.


Alarabiya News. “Coronavirus: Emirates, Etihad Airlines To Pilot COVID-19 Digital ‘Travel Pass”. Alaarabiya News, 2021. Web.

Albers, S., & Rundshagen, V. (2020). European airlines′ strategic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (January-May, 2020). Journal of air transport management, 87, 101863. Web.

Akbar, Y. H., & Kisilowski, M. (2020). To bargain or not to bargain: Airlines, legitimacy and nonmarket strategy in a COVID-19 world. Journal of air transport management, 88, 101867. Web.

Bacq, S., Geoghegan, W., Josefy, M., Stevenson, R., & Williams, T. A. (2020). The COVID-19 Virtual Idea Blitz: Marshaling social entrepreneurship to rapidly respond to urgent grand challenges. Business Horizons, 63(6), 705-723. Web.

Budd, L., Ison, S., & Adrienne, N. (2020). European airline response to the COVID-19 pandemic–Contraction, consolidation and future considerations for airline business and management. Research in Transportation Business & Management, 37, 100578. Web.

Etihad Airways. “PCR Test Now Included In All Etihad Airways Tickets From Abu Dhabi”. Etihad, 2021. 

Kleps, Kochan. “Interview: Reflecting On One Year Of COVID-19 With Etihad Airways | Airways Magazine”. Airways Magazine, 2021. Web.

Russell, W. (2020). EasyJet resumes flying with COVID-19 measures in place. Reuters. 


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