COVID-19 | Skies clearing for airways


The dark shadow cast by the COVID-19 pandemic on the global aviation industry seems to be gradually wearing away, with some international carriers gearing up either to start limited operations to select destinations to ferry stranded passengers or to commence regular schedules.

While Emirates has announced resumption of flights from its Dubai hub to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich and Brussels effective April 6, 2020, to carry only outbound passengers from UAE, Etihad Airways, from April 5, 2020, will operate a regular services starting with Seoul Incheon, followed by Melbourne, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Amsterdam. “These destinations are subject to government approvals,” the carrier said. Over the past week, Etihad Airways has been operating special flights, which have allowed stranded passengers to return home.

“To date, these services have covered a number of destinations, including the U.S., Australia, and Sri Lanka. Etihad will continue to offer such services,” it said. The airline has also brought back UAE citizens stranded in those destinations, apart from transporting cargo.

Emirates said it would operate four flights a week to London Heathrow, and three flights a week to Frankfurt, Zurich, Brussels and Paris.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO, Emirates Airline and Group said, “These initial passenger services, although limited to travellers who meet the entry requirements set by the destination countries, will be welcomed by our customers seeking to return home to their countries and families.”

“While we hope to resume full operations as soon as possible, we acknowledge the challenges faced by many cities in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Our network can only be restored with the easing of travel restrictions,” he said.

Emirates will operate its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on these routes, offering seats in the Business and Economy classes.

“Travel restrictions are in place at these destinations, and travellers are urged to check entry criteria before they fly,” it said.

All Emirates aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in Dubai, after each journey, it added. Singapore Airlines resumed limited flights to London, Frankfurt and Zurich. In April, a dozen flights each way will be operated to each of these destinations. Now it is operating flights to Los Angeles, Seoul and Sydney.

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