Emirates clears Dh6.3 billion in refund backlog through 1.7 million cases

Emirates delivers on customer promise to complete refunds backlog

DUBAI — Emirates on Wednesday said it processed refund cases worth Dh6.3 billion ($1.7 billion) since April, during aviation’s worst-ever year. The amount is split between a staggering 1.7 million refunds, meaning that the average refund amount is roughly $1,000 (D3,670).

While announcing completion of  an intensive programme to clear its backlog of refund requests which was caused by pandemic-related travel disruption, the world’s number one airline for international traffic said it dedicated 110 officials to process ticket refund requests from passengers affected by the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

“Over the seven-month period starting April, Emirates received, validated and processed nearly 1.7 million refund requests. This resulted in the airline returning Dh6.3 billion refunds to its customers. Of this sum, Dh4.7 billion was refunded to customers who had booked directly with the airline, and the remainder was returned via travel agencies,” Emirates said in a statement on Wednesday.

In addition, Emirates managed over 130,000 refunds-related queries from customers and travel agency partners and made status changes to nearly 4 million flight coupons, the statement said.

While Emirates has cleared the backlog, it is still getting many refund requests each day. However, according to Emirates’ president Tim Clark, the airline can now deal with these within seven days of the request being received by the airline.

“In the early months of 2020, Covid-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refunds requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates. It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from drastically reduced operations. Through those difficult months, as we dealt with the impact of the pandemic on our business, we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to our customers,” Clark said.

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In late April, it said that it had almost half a million refunds to process due to the government flight ban. For comparison, the airline usually receives 35,000 refund requests in any given month. The airline made incredible progress in returning cash, with over 1.4 million requests being completed by early September. However, now the entire backlog of cases, amounting to 1.7 million claims, have been dealt with.

“Thanks to the efforts of our refunds and customer service teams, the support and co-operation of our partners, and the understanding of our customers, Emirates has now cleared our backlog of refunds. We still have higher volumes of refunds and flight coupon change requests compared to pre-pandemic times, but we now have the capability to manage these within a 7-day turnaround,” Clark said.

In addition to honouring refunds, he said Emirates offered its customers flexibility to travel at a later date, and the airline also helped its frequent flyers to retain their tier status and introduced other ways for them to earn and burn their Miles.

“For those of our customers who continued to fly, Emirates offered the industry’s first free global Covid-19 cover for their added peace of mind, we put in place rigorous bio-safety measures on the ground and in the air, and we ensured that information on the latest travel requirements was easily available on our website,” he said.

Emirates continues to lead the way in providing its customers with travel assurance and confidence. Early this week, the airline announced that it will offer its customers another industry-first: a multi-risk travel insurance and Covid-19 cover, at no charge, on all tickets purchased on or from December 1, 2020.

In addition to Covid-19 medical cover, this new generous offer from Emirates also has provisions for personal accidents during travel, winter sports cover, loss of personal belongings, and trip disruptions due to unexpected air space closure, travel recommendations or advisories, similar to other multi-risk travel insurance products.

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