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UPDATE 1-Emirates expects to fly 70% of normal capacity by winter, CCO says

(Writes through, adds details, background)

DUBAI, May 4 (Reuters) - Emirates plans to operate around 70% of its normal capacity this winter thanks to an expected increase in international travel as countries ease coronavirus restrictions and reopen borders.

Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline before the pandemic, has been gradually rebuilding its network of 157 passenger destinations since flights were grounded in March 2020.

It is currently operating to around 120 destinations, though capacity remains limited due to the continued grounding of most of the airline’s 118 Airbus A380 superjumbos.

“We already have a plan to get back to almost 70% of our capacity to be recovered by winter 2021,” Emirates Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim told reporters on Tuesday.

He did not disclose its current operating capacity, although he added that the airline had a way to go to reach 70%.

Emirates has mainly been operating flights with its 151 Boeing 777s though with passenger demand still at very low levels globally those planes have mostly carried cargo.

Kazim said the airline expects to operate around 30 to 40 Airbus A380s over the summer, more than what it is currently operating.

The restoration of capacity largely depends on countries easing coronavirus restrictions and whether they permit international travel. Dubai’s Emirates does not have a domestic market that can cushion against international border closures. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Louise Heavens)

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