Coronavirus: Emirates and Etihad suspend flights to Melbourne
Emirates halts flights to the Australian city until March 26 and Etihad pauses outbound services to Victoria until further notice
UAE airlines are suspending flights to Melbourne after new lockdown measures were introduced in Victoria, Australia.
On Friday, authorities declared all of greater Melbourne, including Melbourne Airport, a coronavirus hot spot. The state entered a five-day lockdown to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak that has been linked to the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport quarantine hotel.
Following the announcement, Emirates and Etihad Airways are suspending all commercial passenger flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Melbourne.
Emirates cancels flights through to March
From Tuesday, Emirates will halt passenger flights from Dubai to Melbourne. These flights will be suspended until late March.
"Given passenger allocation restrictions on flights to Australia, the suspension will remain in place until March 26. During this time, flight EK408 will operate as a cargo-only service," an Emirates representative told The National.
"The return flight EK409 from Melbourne to Dubai will operate normally with both passenger and cargo capacity."
The representative advised travellers affected by the suspension to contact their travel agent or Emirates's contact centre for rebooking options. The airline continues to operate flights for passengers from Dubai to Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
The Dubai airline recently restarted flights to the country after a temporary pause introduced when Australia imposed caps on the number of international passengers allowed to fly into the country each day.
Etihad flights suspended
The national airline of the UAE has also cancelled flights to Melbourne. Etihad operated its last flight to the Victorian capital from Abu Dhabi on Saturday. The airline said passenger flights to the Australian city are suspended "until further notice".
“Following the latest Australian government directives, from February 14, all Etihad passenger flights to Melbourne have been suspended until further notice," a representative from the airline told The National.
Etihad said it was working closely with affected guests to notify them of changes to flights and to help them rearrange their travel plans.
Etihad continues to fly passengers from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi, with the airline operating five flights per week.
"This is an evolving situation and we will update guests as more information becomes available. Etihad regrets any inconvenience caused to its guests by these temporary restrictions," added the representative.
In Victoria, officials reported two new local Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the second day of the snap lockdown implemented to contain the spread of the outbreak.
The two cases, one of which was a child aged 3, were the first who were not household contacts of a cluster of infected workers at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport quarantine hotel which triggered the lockdown, health authorities said.
The Holiday Inn outbreak has now affected 16 people.
Updated: February 17, 2021 12:02 PM