Emirates coronavirus (COVID-19) cover: Free coverage for all passengers announced

Emirates aircraft interior cleaning process

The airline released a video detailing how they clean their aircraft and respond to possible coronavirus affected planes.

Emirates will offer free coverage for COVID-19-related expenses for passengers, including medical and quarantine expenses, in what the airline is touting as a world first.

The Middle-East carrier will offer coverage for medical expenses of approximately $245,000 and quarantine costs of approximately $160 per day for 14 days for any passenger that is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel, while they are away from home.

The airline said in a statement that the cover would be free to passengers regardless of which class they flew in and would be effective immediately for anyone flying up to and including October 31.

Cover would be valid for 31 days from the date of their first flight with the airline and would still apply even if they move on to a new destination after their original flight.

Travel insurance for COVID-19 remains a major barrier to restarting international travel, with most insurers refusing coverage for pandemics or "known or foreseen" events. Many Australian insurers declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic or a known event in late January - the World Health Organisation did not declare a pandemic until March.

Emirates group chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said the airline was taking COVID-19 protection "to the next level".

"We know people are yearning to fly as borders around the world gradually re-open, but they are seeking flexibility and assurances should something unforeseen happen during their travel," he said.

Passengers are not required to fill out any forms in order to receive the coverage, they just need to call a dedicated hotline available on the airline's website if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 while travelling.

While Emirates is the first airline in the world to offer this free coverage, Lufthansa Group, which operates Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss, last month announced it would offer a "return flight guarantee" to passengers in need of a repatriation flight. Certain booking classes would also receive coverage for quarantine expenses or medical return transport.

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Emirates resumed flights to Australia on May 21 after grounding much of its fleet early in the outbreak. It has now resumed flights to 60 destinations in its network.

Australians are still banned from travelling overseas by the federal government, which means they are currently excluded from coverage. The coverage also does not cover the quarantine costs where quarantine is being applied broadly (such as to all incoming passengers in Australia). 

See also: First Emirates A380 superjumbo returns to the skies after fleet grounding

See also: The one big issue that will stop Australians travelling overseas

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