It’s been about three weeks since Emirates resumed its suspended service to Australia. However, it looks like the Middle Eastern carrier will be re-suspending its flights to Melbourne for the next month and a half, in cooperation with the Australian government. Here’s what we know about the airline’s sudden move.
Service suspension through March 26th
Effective tomorrow, Emirates is suspending its flights into Melbourne. Gulf Business reports that this suspension will continue through to March 26th. An airline spokesperson offered the following statement:
”In line with the Australian government directive to suspend all international passenger flights arriving into Melbourne, Emirates is temporarily suspending passenger operations to Melbourne from February 16. Given passenger allocation restrictions on flights to Australia, the suspension will remain in place until March 26, 2021,” -Emirates via Gulf Business
Melbourne to Dubai flights will remain available
The airline adds that an aircraft will still be flying between Dubai and Melbourne, but this flight (EK408) will only operate as a cargo-only service. More importantly, for those with plans to leave Australia, EK409 from Melbourne to Dubai will “operate normally with both passenger and cargo capacity.”
The airline advises affected customers to contact their travel agent or Emirates’ contact center to discuss other options, adding, “in the meantime, we continue to operate our flights for passengers to Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth.”
Flights to Australia incredibly scarce
Due to government restrictions on the number of international arrivals (3,000 per week), airlines have scaled back their services to suit this capped level of supply. Beyond Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and Malaysia Airlines have also canceled select services to Australia (with Melbourne as a primary target for cuts). It is estimated that over 30,000 Australians are still abroad with the intention of returning.
In addition to the arrival-limit, Australia has imposed tighter restrictions for aircrew operating flights into the country. All Emirates cabin crew and pilots can only operate flights to Australia with a negative PCR COVID-19 test 48 hours before flying. Furthermore, all crew will now be tested at home and must isolate at home until the flight. The crew must then isolate and take another test upon arrival in Australia and will only be allowed out of isolation when they arrive back in Dubai.
Relative to other countries around the world, Australia has done a decent job of flattening its infection curve. Worldometer data indicates that the country is seeing around six to 10 new cases per day. However, recognizing the delicate and precarious situation at hand, the government is undoubtedly keen to hold on tight to the hard-earned progress it has made thus far.
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