As border restrictions ease further, Emirates has announced plans of re-opening the doors to its airport lounges around the world, with new COVID-19 compliant safety and sanitation measures in place.
The move also comes as the Dubai-based long haul-operator continues to add services to its network in a bid to boost travel demand, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that the air travel industry remains hugely depressed despite attempts to stimulate demand. Airlines in the Middle East region alone are forecast to lose $3.3 billion in revenues next year, besides losing more than $7 billion in 2020.
Passenger lounges, a popular travel feature among business or premium flyers, are slowly re-opening in various aviation hubs around the world, following months of closure.
Emirates has been re-introducing some of its services that cater to premium travellers recently, including its celebrated A380 onboard lounge and shower spa and onboard dining experience.
Business or premium travel has taken a hit since the onset of the pandemic, as the corporate world shifted to remote work.
In a statement on Thursday, Emirates said it will first resume its lounge services in Cairo International Airport, Egypt, to be followed by other locations in the coming weeks, including New York JFK International and Manchester Airport.
The facilities will be open to customers with reduced seating capacity, as well as redesigned features and additional health and safety measures.
To limit the transmission of COVID-19, the airline will be replacing its buffet offering with an a la carte service. Customers can choose their meals through contactless menus activated by QR code, while seats and tables will be sanitised after each use.
The lounge will also be fumigated and sanitised regularly, and employees will be serving guests with masks on while at the same time observing social distancing protocols.
Newspapers, magazines and other reading materials will no longer be available at the lounge.
(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)
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