Coronavirus: Bookings now open for Emirates and Etihad repatriation flights

Emirates has also announced that it plans to repatriate UAE nationals for free

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Airlines in the UAE have opened bookings for special passenger repatriation services to select destinations, with the first flight set to depart from Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Emirates announced on Thursday that it had received approval to fly passengers outbound from the UAE to select destinations across Europe. It also plans to repatriate stranded UAE nationals for free.  

The Dubai airline has now opened booking for outgoing flights, which will operate from Dubai International to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich.

The first available flight from Dubai to London Heathrow will depart from the UAE on Tuesday, April 7. Tickets can be booked via Emirates and one-way fares start from Dh2,500 in economy class.

Economy fares from Dh2,500

Economy fares to all destinations included in Emirates' special services are currently priced from Dh2,500, one-way. No business class fares could be found at this time.

Flights are scheduled to Zurich and Brussels on Tuesday, April 7, and to Frankfurt and Paris from Wednesday, April 8.

There will be four flights per week to London Heathrow, and three flights a week to the other cities.

Travellers keen to fly on these services need to meet strict regulations. All travellers are advised to check their eligibility before booking flights. This can be done via updated information from The International Air Transport Association.

Terminal 2 departures at DXB

Emirates special passenger services will depart from Terminal 2 at DXB, not for Emirates Terminal 3. Courtesy DXB

For these special services, Emirates will operate flights from Terminal 2 at Dubai International Airport, not from the airline's usual hub at Emirates Terminal 3.

Passengers can also expect a modified in-flight service with no magazines or newspapers, and food and beverages presented in a way that reduces contact between crew members and passengers.

Emirates’ lounge and chauffeur drive services for business class passengers are also temporarily unavailable during this period.

Etihad to restart services with flights to South Korea

From Abu Dhabi, Etihad will continue the special passenger flights that it has been operating under government approvals during the closure of UAE airspace.

The national airline has already flown travellers from the UAE to the United States, Australia and Sri Lanka. Etihad said it will begin a regular service to a number of key destinations from Sunday, April 5.

The first flight scheduled to leave Abu Dhabi International Airport as part of these regular services will be to Seoul Incheon on Sunday, April 5.

Economy fares are not available on this service at this time. One-way business class fares are available on Etihad's website from Dh9,937. At the time of writing there were only four seats remaining.

One-way to Manila from Dh1,359

On Tuesday, April 7, Etihad will fly to Singapore and booking is currently open on the airline's website. One-way fares start from Dh1,674.

Economy fares on Etihad's upcoming flight to Manila on Wednesday, April 8 are available from Dh1,359 for a one-way ticket.

On Thursday, April 9, Etihad will fly to Bangkok with one-way economy fares from Dh1,664, and Jakarta, where prices start from Dh1,719.

Flights to Amsterdam are also set to be scheduled in the near future but online bookings are not yet available on the Etihad website. This function will open as soon as the airline has secured government approval for each flight.

Free repatriation for UAE nationals with Emirates 

On Friday, April 3, Emirates announced plans to repatriate any stranded UAE nationals free of charge.

"With the start of limited passenger services from Dubai next week, Emirates will bring UAE nationals home for free on all flights," the airline tweeted. "UAE nationals currently stranded overseas can contact their closest UAE embassy for assistance. Emirates stands with the UAE."

Passenger and transit flights still suspended

The General Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that despite the special services set to be offered by Etihad and Emirates, regular passenger and transit flights are still suspended.

Etihad's website confirms that all standard passenger flights are suspended until Tuesday, April 21.

Emirates and Etihad's special services will bring cargo into the UAE and allow select passengers to return to their home countries.

On Thursday, the country extended its suspension of entry for UAE residency visa holders for another two weeks.

Residents were banned from re-entering the Emirates two weeks ago in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.