Gulf carrier Emirates has cleared its backlog of Covid-19 refund requests, having now repaid AED 6.3 billion (£1.3 billion) back to customers.

The airline said of the total sum of refunds paid, AED 1.6 billion (£330 million) was for bookings made via travel agencies.

It said it managed more than 130,000 refund-related queries from customers and travel agents, and made status changes to nearly four million flight coupons.

At the peak of its project, Emirates said it had 110 personnel working on validating and processing refunds, increased from a 19-person team pre-pandemic.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: “In the early months of 2020, Covid-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refunds requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates.

“It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from drastically reduced operations. Through those difficult months, as we dealt with the impact of the pandemic on our business, we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to our customers.

Clark said Emirates was now managing refunds within a seven-day turnaround, despite still receiving higher volumes of refunds and flight coupons than pre-pandemic.

“Thanks to the efforts of our refunds and customer service teams, the support and co-operation of our partners, and the understanding of our customers, Emirates has now cleared our backlog of refunds,” he said, noting the airline has increased the flexibility of its amendment policy and added Covid-19 cover into the price of fares.

Emirates also unveiled an offer whereby customers who book return economy flights to Dubai from the December 2-23, for travel from December 6, 2020, to February 28, 2021, will be eligible for a complimentary one-night stay at the JW Marriot Marquis on their first night in Dubai.