The imminent approval and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine is expected to restore demand for air travel and help the aviation industry bounce back, Emirates Airlines President Tim Clark estimates.
Clark expressed his views on the future of aviation during an interview with BBC Presenter and Broadcaster Rajan Datar at the virtual summit “Invest, Finance and Rebuild the Travel and Tourism Industry”, that was held on Tuesday by the International Tourism Investment Conference (ITIC) and WTM Virtual.
“Once the vaccine is approved and distribution is sorted, we will bounce back,” Clark said, adding that the equitable distribution of the vaccine is critical.
“The developed world must take a lead in order to ensure that everybody gets access to the vaccine so that the global population is inoculated. The time this takes will determine how quickly [travel] demand is restored.”
According to Emirates’ president, after inoculation is completed, people will want to travel to places they aspired to go during the lockdown period.
“Will it be business as usual? Frankly, I believe it will,” Clark said in a positive tone.
With the development of several Covid-19 vaccines in process, Emirates is ready to take part in their distribution around the world through its especially designed hub for pharmaceutical transshipment and cargo aircraft.
“We knew that the logistics supply chain was going to be difficult and that the vaccines would have to be transferred in sub-zero temperatures. But we needed to be in a position to bring the vaccines from primary producers to the markets that desperately need them – meaning everywhere… We now have engagement contracts with pharmaceutical companies to ship possibly 40-60 thousand tonnes. It is a challenge but we can manage that,” Clark said.
Time to invest
During the event, Emirates’ president highlighted that the pandemic had brought clear opportunities for investment.
“There has never been a turmoil in this planet without opportunities,” he stressed.
Clark believes that companies operating under substantially solid business models, will weather the storm and manage to stay in business.
“We have easy money at the moment… It is cheap – it has been for a time, before the pandemic when interest rates were very low. If that continues and demand picks up, these business models will restore themselves. Airlines and hospitality businesses will look to reduce debt on their balance sheets, not necessarily by going to shareholders to increase equity but by getting cash flows back to where they were and as quickly as possible. Provided that fuel stays the same and yields remain as good as they have been, we can get ourselves back to a cash-positive situation. The good companies will survive and prosper,” he added.