Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of the Emirates Group has announced via Twitter that the Dubai-based airline will resume flights from April 6. Services are set to start several days ahead of the originally planned resumption of flights following a two-week shutdown to “curb the spread of the COVID-19”.
The confirmation from Sheikh Maktoum came around 24 hours after sources familiar with the matter revealed the carrier was readying to restart a limited number of flights early next week. Flights are set to begin a day after a nationwide lockdown finishes.
“Emirates has received approval from UAE authorities to start flying a limited number of passenger flights. From 06 April, these flights will initially carry travellers outbound from the UAE,” Sheikh Maktoum said in a Tweet on Thursday.
“Over time, Emirates looks forward to the gradual resumption of passenger services in line with (the) lifting of travel & operational restrictions, including assurance of health measures to safeguard our people & customers,” he continued.
Sheikh Maktoum is also the chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority who coordinated the shutdown with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.
All regularly scheduled commercial flights were grounded across the UAE on Wednesday, March 25 – less than 24 hours after the measure was announced and a day earlier than originally planned. The drastic action caught tourists off-guard and many have been stranded in the Persian Gulf country ever since.
Emirates will initially only serve London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich with its Boeing 777-300 aircraft. London will be served with four weekly flights, while the other three destinations will be served three times per week.
All flights will temporarily depart from Terminal 2 at Dubai International Airport – a much smaller terminal normally only used by flydubai.
Like many airlines, Emirates says it will alter its in-flight service to deliver food in pre-packaged portions and to reduce the time cabin crew spend around cabin crew.
On Thursday, Etihad Airways operated a special repatriation service of Australian citizens who had been stuck in Abu Dhabi. The flight was arranged through the Australian Consulate General in Dubai who said in a Tweet that this was “a one-off flight and may be the last chance for you to leave the UAE for some time.”
Hundreds of holidaymakers have also been rescued on specially chartered flights from Ras al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi with around 329 mostly German citizens. Emirates has been involved in repatriating a small number of Emirati citizens who were stuck overseas at the time the lockdown began.
The Crown Prince of Dubai has “reaffirmed” the government’s commitment to Emirates, confirming a cash injection had been approved to stave off collapse. Again, further details are still be revealed.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention announced a further 150 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed across the UAE. The total number of cases now stands at 814.
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.