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Etihad Airways Has Pushed Back Flight Restart Date… Again. Cancels Scheduled Flights Through Mid-June

Etihad Airways Has Pushed Back Flight Restart Date… Again. Cancels Scheduled Flights Through Mid-June

Are Etihad Airways and Emirates considering a merger?

Etihad Airways won’t now resume normal scheduled passenger services until June 16 at the earliest after the airline closed all online bookings for flights set to operate in May and early June. Just under two weeks ago, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier was targeting a May 1 restart of scheduled passenger flights with what chief executive Tony Douglas described as a “business as usual approach”.

Like every other airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Etihad was forced to ground its entire fleet on March 24 after officials imposed a flight ban in an attempt to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Etihad has been given special permission to operate a very limited number of repatriation services to return tourists who had been stranded in the UAE.

Etihad wants Economy passengers to pay for the use of seats that would otherwise be empty. Photo Credit: Etihad Airways
Photo Credit: Etihad Airways

Etihad is banned from flying foreign passengers on flights to Abu Dhabi and connecting passenger traffic remains off-limits. The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) hasn’t indicated when the ban flight ban might be lifted but that didn’t stop Etihad eyeing a gradual resumption of normal flights from May 1.

In recent days, Etihad pushed back its anticipated relaunch date to mid-May and now, a further one month day has been announced. In contrast, Emirates has axed plans to resume normal passenger services in June and now doesn’t expect to operate scheduled flights until July 1 at the earliest.

““The network is under continuous review, and Etihad is monitoring the situation and following UAE and international government and regulatory authority directives,” a spokesperson for Etihad Airways explained.

In a statement, the airline said a June 16 restart would be “subject to the lifting of current travel restrictions.” Instead, Etihad has increased the number of destinations served with special repatriation flights and will now fly to 15 cities on select dates throughout May.

Douglas has previously said that Etihad will weather the COVID-19 storm because the “unwavering support of our shareholder (the Abu Dhabi government), has left us in a relatively strong position to withstand any instability.”

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