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Emirates ramps up refund capabilities to clear backlog

written by Dylan Nicholson | April 28, 2020

An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER at Brisbane Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER at Brisbane Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Emirates has ramped up its capability to process refunds as it attempts clear nearly half a million requests.

Pre-pandemic, Emirates processed an average of 35,000 refund requests in a month. Now it is gearing up to handle 150,000, and aims to clear its current backlog by early August.

Tim Clark, Emirates Airline president, said, “It is a difficult time for us, as it is for all airlines. We are dipping into our cash reserves by being proactive in processing refunds, but it is our duty and responsibility.

“We would like to assure our customers and trade partners that we will honour refunds, and that we are doing our best to speed things up.

“The situation was dynamic in the early weeks of the pandemic, but we have since re-written our COVID-19 waiver policy into a simple, globally-applied approach that puts customers first. We’ve also proactively contacted those of our customers who had submitted earlier requests for refunds or booking changes, to let them know of the new options available to them.”

More details on refunds can be found on the Emirates website.

Other airlines have also been struggling with the number of refunds requested by customers unable to travel with many only offering credits in an attempt to retain as much revenue as possible.


Ryanair for example has recently instead processing refunds, passengers have been sent a link telling them how to use its vouchers to purchase alternative flights over the next 12 months.

They can still request a cash refund, it states, but will be placed “in the cash refund queue until the COVID-19 emergency has passed”.

Some European airlines are refusing to provide refunds to customers whose flights were cancelled due to coronavirus in contravention of European Union regulations.

EU rules require that travellers get a refund within seven days, but the majority of carriers are withholding reimbursements and offering travel vouchers or a free rebooking instead. This comes as large national carriers are receiving large bailout sums to get them through the current crisis.

In Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is clarifying a statement it made at the end of March that supported Canadian airlines issuing vouchers and credit instead of giving cash refunds for cancelled flights. The government agency said that its initial position on airlines’ right to issue vouchers is “not a binding decision”.


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