Emirates Unhappy That The UK Is Keeping The UAE On Its Red List

Emirates is unhappy that the UAE remains on the United Kingdom Government’s red list, according to comments from the airline’s head of UK operations. Pre-pandemic, the United Kingdom was a significant market for Emirates, accounting for a quarter of the UAE carrier’s total worldwide capacity.

Emirates, Airbus A380, A6-EVO
Emirates is unhappy that the UAE remains on the UK Government’s red list. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Around a year ago, Emirates’ Airbus A380s were just beginning to return to the skies after Dubai reopened to tourism. The first airport to see the return of the A380 was London’s Heathrow Airport.


According to the Evening Standard, Richard Jewsbury, the Divisional Vice President of the UK at Emirates, finds it frustrating that the UAE remains on the UK’s red list. Being on the red list means that passengers arriving in England from the UAE must quarantine for ten days in managed hotel accommodation. It also meant that Emirates wasn’t able to fly passengers direct to England.

Jewsbury revealed that Emirates would respect the UK Government’s decision but indicated that they hope to see the country moved onto the amber list, commenting,

“The next change should be during the first half of August and we would hope to see some movement reflective of the state of play in the UAE and all the health and safety measures that have been put in place across the passenger journey.”

Emirates, Airbus A380, Premium Economy
For three months, the airline was only flying passengers in one direction. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the UAE has a seven-day incidence per 100,000 people of 124.02. This is much lower than England’s incidence of 447.6 cases per 100,000 people.

However, a crucial part of red list status is supposedly to stop variants from entering the country. A month ago, Reuters reported that 39.2% of cases were for the Beta variant, 33.9% of cases were from the Delta variant, and 11.3% of cases were from the Alpha variant. While over a quarter of a million cases of the Alpha and Delta variant have been recorded in the UK, the Beta variant remains scarce, with just under 1,100 cases reported as of July 23rd.

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Losing the biggest market

The impact of the red list is continuing to affect Emirates. While one destination usually isn’t a huge concern, the United Kingdom is by far the Emirates’ most significant market, accounting for 25% of the airline’s pre-pandemic capacity. While the airline is still flying the giant A380 to the UK, it is doing so without passengers.

Emirates, United Kingdom, Red List
Emirates’ UK recovery was decimated when the country landed on the red list. Data: Cirium

According to schedule information from aviation data experts Cirium, Emirates’ flights to and from the UK are typically balanced at roughly 50%. This should be expected, after all, a plane has to fly there and back, and triangle routes are rare. During March, April, and May, the airline offered no flights to the UK due to the red list.

It has started scheduling such flights again, but the 50/50 equilibrium isn’t currently expected to be met again until October. In June, the airline had 127 flights scheduled between the UAE and the UK. This is an 89% decrease from the 1140 flights planned in June 2019.

Do you think The United Arab Emirates is close to coming off of the red list? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!