Etihad Airways adds new special passenger flight routes – including London Heathrow

The Abu Dhabi airline is helping passengers stranded in the UAE amid the suspension of regular flights

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 24, 2019 a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner of the Etihad airline during take-off at the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany. As coronavirus grounds airlines, plunging the industry into unprecedented crisis, Middle East carriers that have been in the red for years must urgently tap assistance from governments facing their own revenue slump. Authorities across the region have taken draconian measures to curb the disease, closing airports and halting passenger flights, and bringing major hubs like Dubai and Abu Dhabi to a standstill. / AFP / Ina FASSBENDER

Etihad Airways has expanded its special repatriation flights to more countries.

The Abu Dhabi airline has added services to Brussels, Dublin, London Heathrow, Tokyo Narita and Zurich to help passengers who are stranded in the UAE return to their home country during the coronavirus pandemic.

Etihad said it continues to operate special flights to Amsterdam, Jakarta, Manila, Melbourne, Seoul Incheon and Singapore.

Regular passenger flights from the UAE remain suspended as per a directive from the General Civil Aviation Authority.

The special flights, which started on Sunday, April 5, are one-way only, and on return journeys, the airlines have been repatriating Emirati citizens stuck abroad, and bringing in fresh produce and cargo.

"The airline continues to repatriate UAE citizens on return sectors, where possible, and carry fresh produce as belly-hold cargo back to Abu Dhabi," Etihad said in a statement.

It added that passengers seeking to book a seat on the special flights should contact the airline through its website or the contact centre.

UAE nationals wishing to return back to the UAE should contact their local UAE embassy or consulate.

London Heathrow flights from Abu Dhabi will begin on Thursday, April 16 and will run daily through to Saturday, April 18.

Zurich flights will take place on April 17 and 19; Brussels on April 17 and 19; Tokyo on April 14, 17 and 20; while Etihad will fly to Dublin on April 15, 20 and 22.

Dubai carrier Emirates has also been providing special repatriation flights out of the UAE.

The airline said it would resume passenger flights to "select destinations" from Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3 from Sunday, having previously operated limited journeys from Terminal 2.

Emirates had obtained approvals for a number of flights to Zurich and Brussels until Saturday, April 11, with flights to Paris until Sunday, April 12 and routes to London Heathrow and Frankfurt until Sunday, April 19.