Middle East Aviation Update - June 24th
In what has been one of the most eventful weeks for aviation in the Middle East, Dubai based Emirates is set to end a month of restructuring by announcing that it is increasing its service frequencies across a large number of destinations.
Having begun the month under a cloud following the sacking of over 600 of its pilots and what is rumoured to be around 5000 flight attendants, the airline has announced the restoration of services to an additional 10 routes, bringing the total number of destinations being served up to 40.
The recently announced destinations are;
· Colombo, Sri Lanka – Effective from June 20th
· Sialkot, Pakistan – Effective from June 24th
· Istanbul – Effective from June 25th
· Auckland Beirut, Brussels, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – Effective from July 1st.
· Barcelona and Washington DC – Effective from July 15th
Etihad Airlines has announced its plans to increase its scheduled flights to 42 destinations from July 1st. In addition to being the face of the Emirati government’s UAE Aid program, which has been responsible for distributing COVID -19 aid materials to places ranging from Colombia to Palestine, the Abu Dhabi based carrier has been largely connecting passengers across a limited network of 20 destinations across Europe, Asia and Australasia.
The additional destinations effective from July 1st will be;
Asia - Bangkok, Beijing, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Islamabad, Kochi, Lahore, Mumbai. Tokyo
Europe - Istanbul, Manchester, Moscow and Munich
Middle East - Amman, Bahrain, Cairo, Kuwait, Muscat, Riyadh.
As previously covered on June 7th, the current destinations being served are:
Asia – Jakarta, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney.
Europe – Barcelona, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, London Heathrow, Madrid, Milan, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Zurich.
Qatar Airways remains the most active airline in the Middle East, operating flights to 45 destinations as of June 24th. The Doha based airline is the only worldwide carrier who has maintained flights to over 30 destinations since the COVID-19 crisis began. It has been turbulent few months for the carrier. Having to fight negative press for making thousands of its workforce redundant. Including the high profile sacking of an Academy Pilot who accused the airline of sacking them without due cause, although this claim has now been clarified. The airline, due to its constant state of operation, has developed what many believe to be the most efficient, tried and tested safety protocols for those using its services. Including the availability of Hazmat suits for their operating attendants.
WizzAir has continued with its aggressive expansion plan, the Hungarian based low cost carrier has announced several new bases across its network, Bacau – Romania, Belgrade - Russia, Dortmund- Germany and St Petersburg – Russia have all been announced this week with services starting as early as August 8th.
Despite a wave of redundancies earlier in April which resulted in the termination of over 1000 jobs. The airline has been using the COVID-19 crisis to expand its portfolio of bases as well as to start its first subsidiary outside of the European Union – WizzAir Abu Dhabi. The airline also announced that if things went well, the forecasts could allow up to 100 aircraft to be based permanently in the Middle East.
Finally, the Dubai Government has announced the opening up of its borders to tourist effective from July 7th. In another welcome boost for the aviation and tourism sectors, the authorities will be allowing visitors from all nations to visit their favourite Middle East hotspots should the following requirements be met;
Visitors will need to download the COVID-19 DXB app and register details to facilitate coordination and communication with health authorities if they experience COVID-19 symptoms
Visitors will need to have valid health insurance
Visitors must get a PCR test at most 96 hours ahead of their date of departure to the UAE, and proof of this will need to be shown on arrival at Dubai Airport
If proof of a PCR test can’t be shown, visitors will need to undergo a test at the airport upon arrival; it’s not yet clear what the cost for that will be, and if visitors will need to quarantine until the results come in
Visitors be subject to thermal screening upon arrival, and if they are suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms, the airport has the right to re-test them to make sure they’re free of the virus
Visitors who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate themselves in an institutional facility provided by the government at their own expenses for 14 days
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