Emirates has announced it will be restarting flights between the UK and Australia from next week – despite restrictions still not letting visitors in, and a ban in place on Australians leaving the country still in place.
Flights will connect in Dubai, another destination yet to allow travellers from the UK and other parts of the world to enter.
The carrier says it will fly to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne from Thursday, May 21.
To restart the flights, Emirates said it will only accept passengers on these flights providing they “comply with the eligibility and entry criteria requirements of their destination countries” which includes approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) for UAE residents who wish to return to Dubai.
Earlier today, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that UK residents will be able to return to the UK from Melbourne via the UAE from May 15, with some lockdown restrictions lifted due to low cases of coronavirus in Australia.
However, the UK Foreign Office not only advises against all non-essential travel, but Brits will not be able to enter Australia unless a citizen or permanent resident.
All travellers must also quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer said in an interview with The Sun that the airline was pleased to be able to provide travel from the UAE to these cities, and also between the UK and Australia.
“We are working closely with the authorities to plan the resumption of operations to additional destinations,” the spokesperson said, noting there would be significant changes on board.
“Magazines and print reading material will not be available during this time.
“Cabin baggage have to be checked in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board.”
On arrival at Dubai International Airport, for example, customers and employees will have their temperatures checked via thermal scanners and protective barriers will also be installed at check-in counters to provide additional safety during interaction. Masks and gloves will be mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport, while cabin crew and ground staff who interact with travellers will be required to wear personal protective equipment.
The airline said significant cleaning will take place, and each modern aircraft cabin had been fitted with advanced HEPA air filters to removed 99.97 per cent of viruses and dust particles on board.
“After its journey and on landing in Dubai, each aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes to ensure safety and proper sanitation,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier this week, Etihad Airways announced it would operate a regular scheduled service from Melbourne to London Heathrow from May 15 and services from London Heathrow to Melbourne from May 21.
The airline plans to maintain this link until it fully resumes its previous double daily connection between the two cities.
Etihad said it had implemented “an extensive sanitisation and safety program” on flights and at airports, and recommended face masks for travellers.
“The airline is practising the highest standards of hygiene at every part of the customer journey,” reads the airline’s statement.
“This includes catering, aircraft and cabin deep-cleaning, check-in, health screening, boarding, in-flight, crew interaction, meal service, disembarkation and ground transportation, among others.”
Additional safety and security measures will be in place at the destination and passengers will be required to self-quarantine, the airline said.