Etihad Airways and Emirates airline will resume a limited schedule of flights early next week, it was announced on Thursday.
Etihad said it will operate a “regular service” to several destinations starting with Seoul Incheon, and then others such as Melbourne, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Amsterdam. These destinations are subject to government approvals.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chief executive of the Emirates Group and chairman of Dubai Airports, said select outgoing Emirates flights would resume on Monday.
However, the General Civil Aviation Authority said that Etihad and Emirates’ services were not commercial flights, but special flights “for the purpose of evacuating residents and visitors who wish to leave the country and return to their country”.
In two tweets posted on Friday, the GCAA said the suspension of passenger and transit flights are still in effect.
Emirates said it had approval to carry passengers from Dubai to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich, with four flights a week to London Heathrow, and three flights a week to the other four cities.
“Emirates looks forward to the gradual resumption of passenger services in line with lifting of travel and operational restrictions, including assurance of health measures to safeguard our people and customers,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
All Emirates aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in Dubai, after each journey.
Emirates had already been operating repatriation flights for tourists stranded in the UAE when borders closed. The airline also returned to the UAE those Emiratis who were stuck abroad.
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.
Meanwhile, British Airways is expected to suspend about 36,000 staff to help the company weather the economic effects of the pandemic.
The airline, which had already cut its passenger flights, said it would need to cut costs if it is to survive the crisis.