Milestone flight EK2021 highlights UAE’s impressive vaccination drive and readiness of its aviation industry for travel rebound

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  • Close to 400 fully vaccinated passengers experienced Emirates’ latest innovative products and services on the ground and inflight
  • Flight supported by fully vaccinated teams on ground and inflight

Emirates’ one-of-a-kind flight EK2021 proudly made a journey across the different emirates today, to celebrate the UAE’s remarkable progress in vaccinating its citizens and residents from COVID-19 through a national vaccination programme that has administered close to 9 million vaccines doses to date.

The special flight, which carried fully vaccinated crew and passengers on board, was unprecedented in the industry in scale. With close to 400 fully vaccinated customers onboard, the flight illustrates confidence and undiminished excitement for air travel.

EK2021 was also supported by fully vaccinated teams across the aviation eco-system, from onboard crew to ground staff, demonstrating the readiness of the UAE’s aviation eco-system to support the safe rebound of air travel.

In spite of the pandemic, the UAE has maintained its status as a leading global aviation hub and it will continue to grow its position as a hub for passengers and cargo traffic by investing in innovations and close collaborations with all stakeholders.

Onboard EK2021 was a group of senior officials from key aviation and health sector entities hosted by Emirates.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group said:The UAE’s rapid pace and progress in vaccinating our population is a testament of our leadership’s vision and commitment to safeguard our communities, and manage the pandemic by adopting the appropriate measures to protect both nationals and residents. Today’s flight is a showcase of the combined efforts and dedication of all stakeholders in supporting the vaccination programme, and the implementation of protocols in the past 12 months to ensure a safe travel journey, stimulate passenger traffic and set the groundwork for the ramp-up of air travel in the near future. Emirates continues to support the national vaccination programme and we are pleased with the progress made within the group in vaccinating our employees.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates Chief Operating Officer said: “We would like to thank the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Dubai Health Authority, The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Dubai Airports, GRFDA, Dubai Police, Airbus and Pure Health as well as other stakeholders for their close cooperation and support of our special flight.

The UAE currently has one of the world’s highest rate of vaccinations for its citizens and residents at 90.22 doses per 100 people. The outstanding effort by the health authorities in the UAE has contributed to reaching the administration of close to 9 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In parallel, the Emirates Group vaccination programme rolled out to its UAE-based workforce less than three months ago, and since then has delivered COVID-19 shots to over 35,000 Emirates employees across its vaccination centres.

Today’s flight was operated with Emirates’ newest A380 aircraft which featured the airline’s brand-new Premium Economy seats, and refreshed cabin interiors across every cabin class. First and Business Class customers were able to safely network and mingle in the iconic A380 Onboard Lounge. In addition, all customers enjoyed a full-course meal.

Combining the most advanced aviation technology and an inspired cabin design, The A380 remains a customer favourite for its unmatched comfort and spaciousness. This month, Airbus has launched a travel companion app called “Tripset”. The application aggregates and provides flight and travel information to ease and restore passenger’s trust in their end-to-end journey when traveling by air during the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing passengers with the latest and most relevant travel conditions, restriction and health requirements in place, without having to consult a variety of sources. Tripset is part of Airbus’ continuing commitment, alongside airlines, industry partners and regulatory agencies, to encourage the flying public to keep trust in air travel, supporting the safe and well-coordinated return to flight, which is essential for economic recovery from COVID-19.

On the ground, passengers checked in using the latest biometric technologies for a seamless journey across multiple touchpoints. Biometric touchpoints were recently expanded to include over 18 check-in desks and 15 boarding gates at the airport. As a result, customers across all classes enjoyed seamless biometric entry to experience the First and Business Class lounge at DXB.

All EK2021 passengers were provided rapid COVID-19 PCR tests, facilitated by Pure Health. Pure Health, the largest integrated healthcare solutions provider in the UAE, has facilitated the administration of up to 4 million PCR tests at Dubai Airports to date. It has also played a vital role in providing COVID-19 testing support to the aviation industry at large, since the start of the pandemic.

After passengers checked in, they received the green ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ pin and took photos to mark the special event. All EK2021 customers who passed through immigration also received a bespoke ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ stamp on each boarding pass as an added keepsake.

As passengers disembarked, they were handed commemorative certificates for taking part in this initiative.

EK2021 was commanded by UAE National Captain Ahmed Al Obeidli, First Officer Ramon Wilde and the flight deck crew were supported by Captain Ricky Garala. Earlier in the day, aviation entities across Dubai and the UAE were sending their messages of support on Twitter in advance of the special flight.

All proceeds for EK2021 have been donated to the Emirates Airline Foundation, the airline’s non-profit charity organisation which supports projects around the world aimed at improving the quality of life for disadvantaged children around the world.

DUBAI, UAE, 10 April 2021

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