Emirates will no longer routinely test pilots and cabin crew for the novel Coronavirus and will instead move towards a system of thermal screening and targeted PCR antigen testing according to sources who have experienced the new system. The change in policy comes as the Dubai-based airline sets to ramp up its flying programme on Monday, June 15 with the addition of 16 new cities joining its network of post-Corona destinations.
The carrier first introduced mass COVID-19 testing for pilots and cabin crew in late March, requiring every single crew member to undergo a throat and nose swab test for the novel Coronavirus when they arrived in Dubai after operating a flight. Crew members were also expected to self-quarantine for two weeks, although in recent weeks Dubai and the UAE have made significant steps to ease virus lockdown restrictions.
The change in policy at Emirates will align the airline with many of its competitors as well as official guidance from international aviation regulators and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
In fact, new advice from the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) says any health screening for crew members should be “as non-invasive as possible”. Instead, crew members are encouraged to take their temperature regularly, report any COVID-19 related symptoms immediately and maintain good hygiene practices.
Pilots and cabin crew will now only have to undergo thermal screening on departure and arrival from Dubai International Airport (DXB) unless their temperature is abnormally high. Crew members who fail the temperature screening will continue to have a COVID-19 test.
From tomorrow, Emirates will resume regularly scheduled passenger flights to the following destinations: Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.
The carrier has already restarted flights to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne and Manila.
Flights to Kabul, Afghanistan are set to resume on June 25, bringing Emirates’ route network to 30 destinations.
Cabin crew will continue to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including surgical masks, goggles, disposable gowns and gloves. Passengers must also wear masks throughout the flight and service has been limited to reduce interaction between crew and passengers.
The UAE maintains a ban on tourists entering the country but there are plans to welcome 200,000 foreigners who hold residence visas and who have been barred from returning due to border restrictions in the coming weeks.
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.