Emirates Airline has defended its decision to continue its flights to Russia even as other international airlines have stopped service, saying the decisions of individuals and governments should not be confused.
Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, the chairman and CEO of Dubai’s state-owned airline said it had not received any instructions from the government to cease operations and therefore had a duty to maintain its service to passengers.
“At least we are doing a job. We are connecting people between the two countries,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
“We really shouldn’t get confused between people’s decisions and government decisions,” he told CNBC’s Dan Murphy.
Many of the major international airlines, including British Airways and Air France-KLM, decided to suspend flights to Russia earlier this year in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The move was quickly reciprocated by Russia’s flagship airline, Aeroflot, which halted all international flights except to Belarus.
Meanwhile, many Western allies have barred direct flights from Russia from entering their airspace as part of a growing package of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin and his regime.
Dubai-owned Emirates is one of the few major airlines to continue direct service to Russia as other airlines cease operations due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Nurfoto | fake images
Still, the UAE has been reluctant to take sides in the ongoing war and has so far resisted sanctioning Moscow.
Al Maktoum said that until the government changed its stance, Emirates would continue to operate its flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“That’s a government decision. We don’t really have any instructions to stop flights there,” he said.
Al Maktoum added that the war and resulting sanctions have undoubtedly increased the burden on airlines as they try to recover from the pandemic.
However, he said Emirates was still seeing strong demand overall and expects to return to full pre-Covid operations by the end of the financial year.