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UAE Authorities Say Flight Suspensions Remain in Force Despite Announcements from Emirates and Etihad

UAE Authorities Say Flight Suspensions Remain in Force Despite Announcements from Emirates and Etihad

The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority has moved to clarify announcements from both Etihad Airways and Emirates that limited commercial flights would resume on April 5 and April 6 respectively. In a statement, the GCAA said that it “affirmed its decision to suspend all inbound and outbound passenger flights and transit of airline passengers,” confirming the ban was still very much in effect.

The GCAA, along with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, took the decision to suspend all scheduled commercial passenger flights for a two week period starting March 25. The suspension is subject to renewal but Emirates and Etihad said in separate statements yesterday that they would reinstate limited services before the end of the two-week flight ban.

Photo Credit: Dubai Airports

“… only passenger flights carrying UAE residents and visitors wishing to return back to their respective home countries have been temporarily allowed after ensuring all relevant precautionary measures required by the Ministry of Health and Prevention have been taken,” the civil aviation authority said in a statement published by the UAE’s officials news agency on Friday.

Emirates intends to operate 4x weekly flights from Dubai to London Heathrow and 3x weekly to Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich from April 6. The airline will be allowed to carry foreign passengers on outbound flights but only Emirati citizens will be permitted on return flights.

Sources claim the airline intends to slowly resume scheduled flights in phases with the first phase planned on May 1. This timeline is, however, subject to change. Emirates declined to confirm those reports and instead the airline’s chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the carrier “hopes to resume full operations as soon as possible,” while acknowledging “the challenges faced by many cities in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak,” could change those plans.

Meanwhile, Etihad Airways said it hopes to restart normal scheduled service to Seoul from April 5. The airline has also slated Melbourne, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Amsterdam with a resumption of services within days.

At Dubai International Airport (DXB) officials admitted that 91 passengers remained stranded after the UAE banned foreigners from entering the country and then suspended flights. Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports said “solutions” had been found for around 510 stranded passengers and the remaining 91 had been put up in an airport hotel.

“Passengers awaiting either further repatriation flights – or for health and immigration formalities to be completed – are being provided with rooms and meals in the hotels inside DXB  where heightened precautionary measures have been implemented.  Solutions are likely to be put in place for the remaining passengers over the next few days,” the airport authority said in a statement.

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