Emirates, the Dubai-based commercial carrier, has officially announced it will be grounding all of its passenger planes for two weeks. The news came after a series of tweets which saw the airline cancel flights, and then make a sudden u-turn on its decision, before finally settling on an initial two weeks suspension.
Yet, upon the government’s decision to ban all flights for two weeks – regardless of the airline – the airline was forced to implement the cancellation.
So, what does this mean for Britons currently in Dubai hoping to return home?
It is hoped that the airline will be able to repatriate foreign nationals back to their home countries so long as borders remain open.
In a statement on the airline’s website HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group said: “As a global network airline, we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns. By Wednesday 25 March, although we will still operate cargo flights which remain busy, Emirates will have temporarily suspended most of its passenger operations.
“We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services.”
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“Having received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to the following countries and territories until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada.”
As it stands Britons will be able to return home on repatriation efforts so long as the government does not impose new, more stringent border controls.
Travellers due to fly with Emirates are advised to contact them directly and are able to check flight status on emirates.com.
An Emirates spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “As per the latest UAE government directive, Emirates will temporarily suspend all passenger flights for two weeks from 25 March 2020. These measures are in place for the protection of communities against the spread of COVID-19, and we are in full support.
“We look forward to resuming passenger services as soon as feasible.
“Affected customers should visit emirates.com for more information on rebooking or contact their travel agents for assistance.
“Emirates continues to operate freighter flights, helping maintain vital international air cargo links for economies and communities.”
Travel expert Simon Calder also recently revealed insight into what travellers who are currently abroad can do.
He said: “If you know that the government of the country you’re in is banning international flights in two days time just get online and get a flight,” urged Calder.
“In extremis go to the airport and see what you can find.”
However, Calder added that there is no need to panic about being trapped abroad for good. He explained: “Most people will be able to get out.”
Yet, in a gloomier outlook, Calder added: “Assume you won’t get any help from your airline, travel insurance company or embassy.”
Most passengers will have to pay out of pocket for their own flights initially, though they may be able to claim these back at a later date.