Flight diversions due to inflight medical emergencies make up a tiny portion of the millions of flights operated annually, but it is costly for airlines. With more people traveling by air, the actual number of inflight medical events has been gradually increasing over the years.
Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Adel Al Redha said, “We can never hope to recover the costs of a flight diversion, but the well-being of customers is always our number one priority.
Airlines handle medical emergencies differently, as there are no international regulations on this front.” “At Emirates, the safety of passengers comes first. If there is a medical emergency on board, our crew have the training and equipment to help them assess the situation, and deliver the best possible outcome for the affected passengers,” he said.
Emirates operates over 3,500 departures a week, or more than 194,000 flights in 2016. In those 12 months, the airline handled more than 60 flight diversions due to medical emergencies.
A single flight diversion can cost Emirates anything from US$50,000 to over US$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.
In 2016, Emirates delivered nearly 23,000 hours of medical training for cabin crew and pilots, ensuring they are ready to assist passengers on board.