UTC 14:11

Etihad Launches Special Covid Travel Insurance Policy

A new initiative by Etihad Airways is indicative of a growing trend in the aviation industry. The hugely successful airline is offering insurance cover to passengers, as part of its ‘Etihad Wellness’ program. Interestingly, its Middle Eastern rival Emirates has already initiated a similar scheme, as have other carriers including Virgin Atlantic, and Air Canada.

Insurance and quranatine

The aim of the new policy is to ensure that Etihad customers can travel with peace of mind during the Covid crisis. Guests of the airline who are diagnosed with Covid during a trip will be spared any concern about medical expenses or quarantine costs.

“The safety, health, and wellbeing of our guests and employees is our top priority, during and beyond the flight. The introduction of global Covid-19 insurance, in partnership with AXA, builds on stringent measures already in place as part of our Etihad Wellness programme, championed by our Wellness Ambassadors,” Duncan Bureau, Senior Vice President Sales and Distribution, Etihad Airways, commented.

(Above: Etihad Airlines is one of the world's most highly regarded carriers. Photo: John via Flickr.

According to Etihad, global wellness insurance worth €150,000 per individual will cover all customers for the foreseeable future, with up to €100 per day of quarantine costs, in case of a positive diagnosis, also being met for a period of 14 days.

The Covid-19 insurance policy will apply on all Etihad tickets from September 7 until the end of 2020. The carrier has yet to confirm whether or not the scheme will be extended beyond this point, but will probably continue to review the ongoing coronavirus situation as a precaution. However, those taking extended trips will definitely need to review their arrangements, as the coverage is only valid worldwide for 31 days from the first day of travel.

Nonetheless, Etihad believes that the policy will help buttress confidence in the aviation industry, at a time when virtually all major airlines have been detrimentally impacted. Etihad is bullish on the immediate future of aviation, noting that an increasing number of countries have been opening up their borders in recent weeks.

In order to deliver the scheme, Etihad partnered with insurance firm AXA. And it is perhaps not surprising that the carrier has delivered this coverage, as its neighbor Emirates claims to have been the first airline to launch a scheme of this nature.

(Above: Emirates has been decimated by the Covid crisis)

Some nations have also made similar provisions, with the Dominican Republic offering tourists Covid-19 coverage on arrival. Although travel volumes may not have returned to normal levels, companies such as Etihad are hoping that their generous provision will be a pull factor for passengers getting back on airplanes.

Covid crisis

While the Middle East houses some of the world's most prestigious and highly-regarded airlines, the region has been badly hit by the Covid pandemic. The extent of this decline in demand prompted Tony Douglas, chief executive of the Etihad Airways Group, to demand the urgent adoption of internationally recognised Covid-19 testing standards.

In making this call, Douglas cited a recent survey which indicated that 83% of travellers would not consider taking a flight if quarantine measures were in force, with many countries still implementing stringent controls over daily life and travel.

“There has to be something now that regulates the way in which your wellness can be assured,” Douglas told the Financial Times, with the CEO suggesting that new rapid testing technology could make a huge difference to aviation and travel. “If you get over the fact that the threat is not going to go away you then have to actively decide to mitigate the risk,” Douglas noted.

(Above: Major airports such as Dubai International have also been massively affected)

Mass adoption

Etihad is one of many airlines to require a negative Covid-19 test certificate before travelling, and more than 30 countries have now adopted some form of Covid-19 testing regimen for international air travel.

Officially, the World Health Organization still asserts that Covid-19 testing should be “treated with caution”, and is sceptical about the prospect of immunity passports. As the Covid pandemic and its consequences continue to unfold, it is likely that this theme of disagreement and disharmony between aviation bodies, airlines, and health authorities will continue.

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