How Omicron is affecting flights: Etihad, Emirates and KLM issue travel restrictions

The UAE announced it has suspended entry for people coming from seven African countries over concerns of the new Covid-19 variant

What is Omicron and how worrying is this new Covid variant?

What is Omicron and how worrying is this new Covid variant?
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Live updates: follow the latest news on Covid-19 variant Omicron

Growing concern over Omicron, the new coronavirus variant, has prompted the UAE and other nations to impose travel restrictions on flights from the southern African region.

The variant was first detected in South Africa, but cases have also been detected in Belgium and Botswana. On Friday, an emergency meeting was held by the World Health Organisation after a rapid spike of cases was seen in the African nation, where at least 77 cases have been detected.

Here's a look at how air travel has been affected so far:


Following the latest directives from the UAE government, Etihad will suspend all passenger services between the UAE and Johannesburg from November 29 until further notice. This is “in response to the spread of the newly identified variant of Covid-19”, according to an Etihad spokesperson.

Etihad is working closely with impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries. Guests who have purchased their tickets through a travel agent are advised to contact the agency for assistance.

More information is available at


Emirates has issued travel restrictions on seven countries in Africa owing to concerns about the new coronavirus variant.

All travellers departing from or transiting Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa will not be accepted for travel into Dubai from November 27 until further notice.

Affected travellers do not need to rebook, but can hold on to their Emirates ticket and once flights resume, can call to make a new booking. Those travelling to these countries are not affected by the directive and can continue with their flight plans.

UAE citizens, members of diplomatic missions, official delegations and those with golden residence visas travelling to the UAE from the seven African countries are excluded from the new rules.

Those who are exempt will need to present a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 48 hours of departure, take a rapid PCR test at the airport within six hours of departure and perform another PCR test at the airport when arriving in the UAE.

A 10-day quarantine and a PCR test on the ninth day of entering the country will be required as well.

Official delegations will be required to quarantine at the airport until their test results are received and then will be able to continue their mission in the UAE without the 10-day quarantine.


Dutch airline KLM also announced that flights to the Netherlands from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini are banned as of November 26.

The African countries have been added to the Netherlands' “very high-risk” list, meaning that arriving passengers will have to get a PCR test and will be placed in hotel quarantine for 10 days.

This can be shorted to five days with a negative test result from the country's municipal health service the GGD. Those who have a connecting flight will also need to get tested. This applies to Dutch and EU citizens in transit to the country where they live.

The announcement comes after the WHO designated the new B. 1.1.529 Omicron strain as a “variant of concern".

Updated: November 29, 2021, 11:49 AM