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British Government Negotiating Travel Ban Exemptions to Repatriate Citizens On Commercial Flights

British Government Negotiating Travel Ban Exemptions to Repatriate Citizens On Commercial Flights

At around 10:50 am (GST) this morning, flydubai flight FZ1749 departed Dubai International Airport (DXB) bound for Zagreb, Croatia. The aircraft took off with passengers onboard despite a complete ban on passenger flights imposed by the UAE’s National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management which came into effect on Wednesday night for at least two weeks.

Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai have all grounded their fleets with both DXB and Dubai World Central airport being turned into giant aeroplane parking lots. But intense negotiations at the highest level of government has seen some exemptions being made to repatriate citizens.

Photo Credit: Qatar Airways

flydubai flight FZ1749 was cleared to fly by the General Civil Aviation Authority with a group of Europeans onboard including British nationals who couldn’t get out of the UAE before the travel ban was enforced – 24 hours earlier than originally planned.

Patrick Moody, the British ambassador to the UAE confirmed on Twitter that seats on the plane were available for British nationals and had been given permission to transit in Zagreb.

Meanwhile, British consular officials in Indonesia have managed to negotiate special exemptions for Brits to board Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines flights from Bali. Both the Hong Kong and Singapore authorities have banned all transit passengers but have made an exception to let travellers get back on normal commercial flights.

And in Australia, High Commissioner Vicki Treadall said her office had been working with Qatar Airways to not only allow transit flights through Doha to continue for British nationals but also to get the airline to start flying direct to Brisbane after competitors grounded their fleets.

Treadall and her team were also said to have been involved in negotiations with the Singaporean authorities to allow British Airways landing rights in Singapore, so as long as passengers didn’t disembark the plane.

The British High Commission warned its nationals that special repatriation flights from Australia were a long way off and everyone wanting to get home should use the few commercial flights still available. There is, however, concern that many airlines including Qatar Airways and British Airways have massively hiked up prices to take advantage of the situation – a concern that the High Commission has raised directly with the carriers.

But while special repatriation flights are in short order for some of the 900,000 stranded Brits abroad, the same can’t be of Germans still needing to get home. Lufthansa has been operating special flights throughout the week, including its first-ever flights to Auckland, New Zealand and a special flight from Dehli – which has otherwise banned all air travel.