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Dubai throws Emirates Air a lifeline as travel grounded

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s government announced today it will inject equity into Emirates airlines as the Middle East’s largest carrier grounds nearly all of its flights due to coronavirus restrictions on travel.

Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a statement that liquidity would be given to the state-owned airline, “considering its strategic importance” to Dubai and the economy of the United Arab Emirates, as well as the airline’s “key role in positioning Dubai as a major international aviation hub.”

He did not say how much credit would be pumped into the airline, only that further details would be announced at a later stage.

Emirates carried around 58 million passengers last year, keeping Dubai’s airport as the world’s busiest for international travel for several years running.

The coronavirus travel disruptions have pummeled the aviation industry worldwide, with carriers temporarily laying off cabin crew and pilots or reducing salaries of staff.

The United Arab Emirates, which is home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has closed its borders to travelers and even transit flights. Mostly only cargo flights, a small number of returning Emirati citizens and emergency cases are flying through the country’s airports.

Today, low-cost carrier flydubai became the latest airline to announce pay cuts of its staff of nearly 4,000, though not all staff are being affected the same.

The company told The Associated Press it was reducing salaries to between 25-50% for a three-month period starting in April. Employees’ benefits will remain unchanged, and senior employees will see the biggest pay cut.

“This decision has not been taken lightly,” the company said, but with a “heavy heart” and “with the aim of retaining our employees and ensuring we are in the best possible place when our regular schedule resumes.”

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