Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, will take on coronavirus customers' medical costs to "increase travel confidence," the Dubai Media Office reported Thursday.
"Emirates pays its passengers for COVID-19 related medical and quarantine costs when traveling on board Emirates free of charge to and from the United Arab Emirates and around the world," said the Emirates media office.
The Dubai-based airline, which operates a fleet of 270 wide-bodied aircraft, ceased operations at the end of March as part of global shutdowns to curb the spread of the novel corona virus.
Two weeks later, it resumed operations in a limited network and plans to fly from over 150 pre-crisis cities to 58 cities by mid-August.
The announcement came shortly after the United Arab Emirates – an alliance of seven emirates, including the capital Abu Dhabi and Dubai – ordered tests for all inbound and transit passengers from August 1, according to state media.
"Emirates will be the first airline to offer free medical coverage for COVID-19 to customers traveling to and from the United Arab Emirates and around the world," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and Managing Director of the Emirates Group, on Twitter.
"This will build confidence in the journey and once again position Emirates and Dubai as leaders in the aviation industry."
Passengers can claim up to $ 150,000 ($ 173,600) in medical expenses and up to $ 100 per day for 14 days in quarantine costs if they are diagnosed with the disease, the Dubai Media Office said.
"We know that people are longing to fly when the borders around the world start to reopen, but they are looking for flexibility and security if something unexpected happens during their trip," said Sheikh Ahmed in the statement.
The policy takes effect immediately and remains in effect until October 30, 2020.
Emirates President Tim Clark said that it could take up to four years for operations to return to "a certain degree of normalcy" and that the airline could fire up to 15 percent of its employees.
Before the pandemic broke out, Emirates employed around 60,000 people, including 4,300 pilots and almost 22,000 flight attendants, according to the annual report.
The airline reported a 21 percent increase in annual profit in March.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)