Etihad expects surge in passenger demand as Abu Dhabi opens to vaccinated travellers

The government’s decision will help attract tourists as the UAE hosts Expo 2020, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and other key events

Etihad Airways is preparing for a boost in travel demand to and from Abu Dhabi following the government’s announcement to remove the quarantine requirement for all vaccinated travellers arriving from overseas, the airline said.

Abu Dhabi will remove the need to quarantine on arrival for vaccinated travellers from September 5.

“The news is perfectly timed to begin welcoming the world back to Abu Dhabi,” Tony Douglas, group chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, said.

The news is perfectly timed to begin welcoming the world back to Abu Dhabi
Tony Douglas, group chief executive, Etihad Aviation Group

“We expect a huge surge in demand from tourists and visiting friends and relatives from around the world. This will also give UAE residents greater flexibility and peace of mind when travelling globally.”

Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said all travellers, vaccinated and unvaccinated, must present a negative PCR test within 48 hours of departure.

While vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine, those travelling from green list countries must take a PCR test on arrival and another test on day six if staying in the emirate.

Vaccinated travellers arriving from other destinations – not on the green list – must take a PCR test on arrival, and have further tests on days four and eight if staying in the emirate.

The committee said unvaccinated travellers, including those exempt from vaccination, arriving in Abu Dhabi from green list destinations must take a PCR test on arrival, without the need to quarantine, and take PCR tests on days six and nine.

When arriving from other destinations, unvaccinated travellers must take a PCR test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days and take another PCR test on day nine.

“The emirate has delivered one of the world’s best public health programmes … with an extremely high vaccination rate and smart technologically-driven solutions such as the Al Hosn app to ensure the safety of residents and visitors,” Mr Douglas said.

He added the government’s decision will help as the UAE prepares to host Expo 2020, the Formula 1 Grand Prix and more global events over the coming months.

The state-owned airline halved its operating loss in the first six months of 2021 as it reduced costs and expanded its network and cargo business.

The airline’s cargo revenue jumped 56 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2021 to $800 million as it carried 365.5 tonnes of freight, an increase of 44 per cent from the same period a year ago, the carrier said.

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The airline, which is executing a five-year turnaround plan, slashed operating costs by 27 per cent year-on-year to $1.4 billion. Reduced capacity and volume-related expenses helped to cut operating costs, it said. Fixed overheads fell by 22 per cent year-on-year to $300m, while finance costs were down 22 per cent due to “an ongoing balance sheet deleveraging”, Etihad Airways said.

Passenger traffic fell by 66.6 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline carried one million passengers in the January to June period, fewer than the three million passengers it carried in the first half of 2020.

Passenger revenue fell by 68 per cent year-on-year to $300m as a result of new coronavirus variants affecting key travel markets on the Indian subcontinent and in Europe, the airline said.

Etihad, which currently operates to 65 passenger destinations, requires all passengers to show a negative PCR test before boarding.

In February 2021, Etihad became the first airline in the world to have 100 per cent of operating pilots and cabin crew on board vaccinated to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the company said.

Updated: September 3rd 2021, 7:11 AM