Renewed Travel Experiences in a Post Pandemic World
While we are in the middle of a global health crisis, industries across the spectrum have evolved to provide people with the best possible experience, despite the current scenario we are facing. We understand the growing apprehensions revolving around travel in the minds of the people over the past few months. In a guest column, Lindsay White, Etihad Airways' Vice President, Eastern Region (APAC and ISC) shares more.
An industry that usually connects the world together has seen minimal movement since the onset of the pandemic. There was a slump in travel over the past quarter, but we are now witnessing a steady revival of the world and the new normal is beginning to set in. A new era of air travel is emerging from this crisis, where it is crucial to offer guests utmost safety throughout their journey. I am pleased to throw light on how Etihad has weathered the impact of this crisis and what steps have been taken to curate renewed air travel experiences for our guests.
Adaptability and agility are key
Steering through the unchartered waters we are in; Etihad has been able to counter the ongoing crisis in an efficient manner. The on-going restructuring programme gave the business the agility to better manage its operation through the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for when air travel markets reopened. We are nimble and were able to respond quickly, navigating these times with adaptability. Etihad has also taken full advantage of the aircraft downtime as we embarked on the biggest aircraft maintenance programme in our history to ensure that the airline was in its best shape for when it returns to flying.
Resumption of a wider global network
The ongoing situation is so dynamic that we cannot predict how and when air travel markets across the globe will open and what their protocols would be. But we have been working closely with the UAE government and global aviation authorities to ensure we gradually grow our network. Throughout August and September, subject to the lifting of international restrictions and the re-opening of individual markets, we aim to fly to 61 destinations worldwide from our Abu Dhabi hub, operating approximately 50 per cent of our pre-COVID capacity. Our priority will be to return to a larger network of international flights, ensuring the safety of our guests and employees alike.
Introducing specially trained ‘Wellness Ambassadors’
The focus on wellness of our guests and employees will be at the core of renewed travel experiences for Etihad. To ensure guests can travel with greater peace of mind, we launched ‘Etihad Wellness’, a comprehensive health and hygiene programme and customer guide. This industry-first initiative is being championed by specially trained Wellness Ambassadors who will provide essential travel health information and care, from pre-flight and at the airport as well as on-board.
Stricter measures at airports
At Abu Dhabi International Airport, strict measures are in place at check-in counters to practice social distancing and a safer airport environment. These include floor marking to ensure social distancing, check-in teams wearing gloves and face masks, and regular sanitisation of check-in counters. Thermal screening at airports will be carried out prior to boarding an Etihad Airways flight and our screening agents will wear full personal protection equipment.
Leveraging our technology-first approach
In the past quarter, Etihad Airways actively sourced and invested in innovative solutions, which will forever redefine travel experiencesin a post COVID-19 world such as self-service check-in facilities, an interactive map with Sitata that uses advanced computer algorithms to detect new travel information globally and a risk-assessment tool with Medicus AI, empowering guests to make informed travelling decisions.
Providing flexibility to partners
Our priority at Etihad Airways during this difficult time will be to continue providing support to our trade partners and engaging with them. We introduced a range of travel waivers, solutions and benefits to help ease the burden and provide maximum flexibility
* Support with new bookings: On all new bookings made before 31 August 2020, we’re allowing unlimited changes to give guests the freedom and flexibility to change their travel plans if they need to. They can pick a new date or destination anywhere on our network and all they will pay is the difference in fare; there are no extra fees or hidden costs. If for any reason they can’t travel, they will be eligible for Etihad Credit, and the fare difference will apply
* Support with existing bookings: Guests can re-book their trip before 30 November 2020 and travel to any destination on Etihad’s network before 31 October 2021, or use the value of their ticket as credit towards their next trip. There is no charge to change the trip and we’ll remove the fare difference if the guest travels within the same zone/area before 30 November 2020. Tickets must have been issued before 31 August 2020 to be eligible, and standard fare rules will apply.
Around The World