Head of Dubai Airports hails UAE switch to amber as Expo 2020 boost

Paul Griffiths says decision signifies a strong path to recovery for aviation sector

Dubai, United Arab Emirates- Paul Griffitts, CEO of Dubai Airports at the Dubai Airshow 2019 at Maktoum Airport.  Leslie Pableo for the National
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The move by the UK government to upgrade the UAE to its amber list could be followed by a blanket release of travel restrictions around the world, a top airport official said.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, said the latest travel update, which removed the UAE from the UK’s red list after more than six months, was a positive step for the tourism and aviation industry.

From August 8, passengers travelling from the UAE to England do not have to complete paid mandatory hotel quarantine. Instead, they will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, taking pre-booked PCR tests on day two and day eight.

Those who have been [affected] by the travel constraints can at last start to plan, reliably, their mobility to get back to their friends and family
Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports

“This is the moment we have been waiting for. I believe it starts to signify that we are on a recovery cycle … the industry can start to perhaps look towards a brighter future,” Mr Griffiths said.

“The news from the UK is excellent and it is the result of a lobbying effort on both sides.

“Those who have been [affected] by the travel constraints can at last start to plan, reliably, their mobility to get back to their friends and family.

“These are positive first steps … hopefully followed by a blanket release of restrictions.”

With just over two months to go until the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, the airport boss said the move would be a great boost for UAE tourism.

Within the next few weeks, he hopes more countries will open up in time for the world fair, which is expected to accumulate more than 25 million visits over the six-month period.

“If we can get the countries of the world open in time for Expo, then that is going to be fantastic,” he said.

“[This is] great news for UAE residents, great news for citizens of the UK and I am absolutely sure, just in time for Expo, we are going to see an absolute flood of visitor bookings with confidence to come and explore Expo and all the UAE has to offer.”

He said travel between the UAE and UK was a major route, so for passengers to not have to spend 10 days in a hotel immediately on arrival in the UK would be a blessing for travellers.

“So many families have been affected [by the red list status], people have had to choose weird and wonderful routes and spend at least 16 days in isolation before being able to wander free in the UK, so this is absolutely huge news,” he said.

“Not just because of the UK market alone, but coupled with some opening up of other markets, the transfer flows will be extremely important.”

Mr Griffiths paid tribute to those who have been in negotiations to upgrade the UAE to the UK’s amber list.

He said the “exchange of data and openness of conversation” had led to a fantastic outcome.

“Let’s face it, it has been a very difficult decision because the progress of Covid-19 has had so many twists and turns.

“To be able to take a very firm stand and say, look, we’re going to try and get life back to normal as quickly as possible by managing this, I think is an incredibly pragmatic and positive move by both sides.”

Updated: August 05, 2021, 1:10 PM