Emirates restarts some international flights after coronavirus grounding
After a brief grounding, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, Emirates, is taking to the skies again.
Emirates suspended all flights last week on the orders of the United Arab Emirates government, but on Monday re-started several routes after receiving approval to fly again.
Flights recommencing thus far are from Dubai to London, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich and Brussels. The airline suspended flights to Australia on March 25.
Emirates will fly four times a week to London and three times a week to the other cities. The flights will be limited to passengers who meet the restricted entry requirements for these destinations.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates chairman and chief executive said the airline’s network could only be restored once travel restrictions were eased.
“We are working closely with the authorities to resume our services, keeping in mind the safety and wellbeing of our crew and customers at every step of the journey,” he said in a statement. “We continuously review the situation and will announce any additional services as they become available.”
The restarted flights will only carry outbound passengers from the UAE, along with cargo in both directions. The airline will fly Boeing 777s on the routes, offering both economy and business class seats. Emirates two-class version of this aircraft can accommodate more than 400 passengers.
The airline advised that, while food and drinks would still be served on board, “packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service”. Inflight magazines and other reading material would not be available.
Prior to the UAE’s blanket ban, Emirates announced the grounding of 85 per cent of its fleet due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. With only 777s returning to the sky, the airline’s 115 Airbus A380 superjumbos will remain on the ground for the time being.
The Emirates flights take off as Qantas and Virgin Australia prepare to re-start some international services after the federal government agreed to subsidise four routes in order to bring home stranded Australians.
The airlines will restart scheduled flights to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and Auckland. Passengers will need to pay for their own fares.
After Emirates suspended flights, Qatar Airways last week became the only airline from the region to continue flying to Australia. Citing demand from Australians looking to get home, the airline actually increased flight frequency to the equivalent of 48,000 additional seats. It also added a Doha to Brisbane route for the first time.