Dubai-based airline Emirates is looking to restart flights in less than a week according to several sources familiar with the matter. Emirates, along with all other airlines in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) including Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia was forced to ground all commercial flights on Wednesday, March 25 following an order from the Emirati authorities.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority initially said the complete passenger flight suspension would last for a period of two weeks as part of “precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19”.
Officials said that the suspension could be extended for even longer but that flights might resume after “additional examination and isolation arrangements” were put in place.
Sources claim Emirates is now readying to resume some flights from April 6, several days ahead of the official end of the two-week suspension and a day after a nationwide lockdown is set to end. Initially, flights would only resume to 10 key international destinations, although details of which destinations will be served are not yet known.
Only passengers on outbound flights will initially be allowed to board flights, possibly as part of an effort to repatriate stranded tourists who have been stuck in Dubai and have been unable to secure places on the limited number of rescue flights given special dispensation to fly into the UAE.
While the authorities have banned all foreigners from entering the UAE until further notice, it’s also unclear as to whether transit passengers may be allowed to pass through Dubai International Airport. Emirati citizens will likely be allowed to board inbound flights as part of an ongoing repatriation programme.
The UAE has indicated that it may start allowing foreigners back into the country if countries put in place screening processes including thermal scanning and possibly even on the spot COVID-19 testing. Emirates had implemented a similar system at its Dubai hub, including mandatory testing for cabin crew, before grounding its fleet.
Emirates and Etihad have been put on the back foot after regional rival Qatar Airways continued flying and made much of its ability to get stranded tourists back home after competitors axed services.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.