In a blow to travelers looking to fly to Dubai, Emirates has extended its flight ban from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Passenger flights from the three countries will remain off-limits until 15th July at the earliest. Only UAE citizens, diplomats on official duty, and holders of the golden residency visa can travel currently.
Emirates has extended its flight ban from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka until 15th July. The decision comes as the UAE continues to tighten travel restrictions to prevent a rise in cases due to the Delta variant. All three countries have seen a major rise in cases in recent months due to new variants, increasing fears of imported cases.
Under the rules, any travelers who have been or transited through the three countries in the last 14 days cannot board an Emirates flight. This applies to all citizens except those from the UAE, who can fly home but must quarantine on their return. Transit in Dubai remains banned as well, meaning most flights are carrying a handful of passengers at best.
However, just because passengers cannot fly to Dubai, don’t think Emirates has stopped flying. Indeed, the carrier continues to fly to nearly all of its destinations in Pakistan, along with Dhaka and Colombo. This is because inbound traffic to these countries, along with cargo traffic allows the airline to continue operating flights, including daily services to many of these cities.
This latest extension marks over two months since passengers from the three countries were banned from the UAE. The ban first came into effect on May 12th, after all three nations saw a huge spike in cases in the preceding weeks and the emergence of the new Delta variant, which is considered the most transmissible strain of COVID-19 until now.
This led to the UAE tightening its border restrictions from late April. India was the first to face a travel ban on April 22nd, with Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan all joining the next month. For Emirates, this is a huge blow to its recovery considering India and South Asia are its biggest market and second-largest region respectively.
According to a route analysis by Simple Flying, Emirates’ summer schedule has been hit hard by the flight bans. South Asia announced for 38% of UAE’s seats for this summer according to planned schedules. However, the bans mean that this figure has fallen dramatically as carriers cope with low load factors. As it stands, only one of Emirates’ destinations in the region is seeing regular traffic, the Maldives.
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No end in sight
As of now, there seems to be no firm date for the end of the travel ban. While Dubai had laid out plans to allow residents from India, this has not gone into effect as of now. For now, access to the UAE remains restricted even for those who might be residents in any South Asian country.
What do you think about the UAE’s decision to extend its travel ban on South Asian countries? Let us know in the comments!