United Arab Emirates decided late on Sunday to ban all passenger air traffic for two weeks starting within 48 hours (should be Tuesday this week).
Both Emirates and Etihad need to temporarily ground their fleet as the two smaller UAE airlines Flydubai and AirArabia.
Note that the ban doesn’t apply to evacuation and cargo flights.
Here’s the release from the Emirates News Agency:
The National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management and the Civil Aviation Authority have decided to suspend all inbound and outbound passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE for two weeks as part of the precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
The decision, which is subject to re-assessment, will take effect in 48 hours.
In a statement today, the CAA said cargo and emergency evacuation flights would be exempt, taking into consideration all the precautionary measures adopted as per the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
“Additional examination and isolation arrangements will be taken later should flights resume in order to ensure the safety of passengers, air crews, and airport personnel and their protection from infection risks,” said the statement.
Emirates, likely knowing what was coming, already announced few hours earlier that they would end all passenger services by March 25, 2020 (read more here),
The situation around these transit bans and airport closures is very fluid at the moment. I can only imagine how difficult it will to restart operations and build up the route network again when all reservations have vanished.
Passengers should request refunds for their canceled flights and refuse any vouchers or date changes. It is unclear what routes will operate, how often, and when. It is easier just to purchase the flights when things are more certain.
I do not doubt that the leading airlines of UAE Emirates and Etihad will survive as they are backed up by Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments.