Emirates airlines will continue flying passengers to Russia so long as its owner requires it to do so, the carrier’s President Tim Clark said on March 29, while noting that western sanctions against the Kremlin are not directed at the citizens of the country.
The Dubai-based international carrier, which is owned by the UAE Government, has been using Emirates aircraft to carry humanitarian goods and fly diplomats in and out of Russia.
Clark was attending the World Government Summit in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, when he was asked why the airline continues to fly to Russia.
“Well there are two reasons for this,” Clark said. “Obviously the ownership has not directed us to do otherwise, so as long as we are not told not to operate to Russia, we will continue to do so. But don’t forget, these sanctions are not against the Russian people, the Russian citizens, they still are people like you and me, and they want to be able to travel.
“There are lots of reasons why we fly, we carry humanitarian goods in our holds. We’ve got NGOs traveling in and out of Russia. We’ve got the diplomatic community going in and out of Russia … so all we’re doing is being an enabler, facilitator, without taking a political position on this for the time being,” Clark continues.
“So as long as the state, our owner, requires us to fly there, we will continue,” the carrier’s President added.
Emirates is one of the few airlines still operating in Russia after a string of other carriers pulled flights to the country after Western nations imposed a series of sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
British airlines have been banned from landing at Russia’s airports and entering the country’s airspace in response to the UK closing its airspace to Russian airlines, including Aeroflot.
The Netherlands’ chief airline KLM has also canceled all flights to Russia, as has Turkey’s low-cost Pegasus Airlines, German airline Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, along with a string of others, many of which have cited operational risks and sanctions.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is yet to condemn Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and has not imposed sanctions against the country.
Clark later told reporters at the World Government Summit that Emirates does not allow any sanctioned goods on its airplanes.
When asked about sanctioned individuals, he said, “I’m not in a position to say who or what about sanctioned individuals. [They] are sanctioned by the West, they may not be sanctioned here,” according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates joined China and India in abstaining from a vote at the United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has also called for a “peaceful solution” to the Ukraine crisis “in a way that guarantees the interests and national security of all parties.”
Clark told the summit on Tuesday that the conflict in Ukraine was a “serious” issue that could impact the civil aviation industry and the global economy but said he believed there is still a resolution.
“If this gets sorted sooner rather than later the pressure of globalization, the pressure of demand from multiple sectors within the global economy will be such that we can get through this. The longer it goes on, the more difficult it becomes to deal with,” he said.