Emirates had to divert 60 of 194,000 flights in 2016 to treat passengers who needed immediate medical care, the airline said on Tuesday.
Given the prohibitive cost of a single flight diversion, Emirates is investing millions in medical training for pilots and crew and spending more than $7 million on installing advanced medical equipment in its aircraft to attend to ailing, older passengers experiencing in-flight medical emergencies.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, said: “A single flight diversion can cost Emirates anything from $50,000 to over $600,000, depending on the nature of the diversion which include fuel, flight catering, landing and ground handling fees, air navigation cost, passenger rebooking costs and onward connection, as well as other associated costs to care for crew and passengers.”
Al Redha added that “the well-being of our customers is always our number-one priority”.
Dr Richard Jenkins, Emirates’ Vice-President for Medical Services, told Gulf News on Tuesday that “main conditions that present as emergencies are heart attacks, strokes and conditions relating to glucose and diabetes. We also deal with many other conditions including seizures, breathing difficulties and even on board labour in pregnancy”.