Dubai-based Emirates Airline has said that it has no plans to suspend flights amid new UAE visa suspensions. The state-owned airline took to social media earlier today to quash rumors that they were planning to suspend all flights starting on March 17th, 2020.
The tweet read:
“Emirates confirms that there is no truth to the rumors circulating on social media that the airline will be suspending all flights on 17 March.”
New visa requirements intended to slow virus outbreak
Amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the UAE followed other countries around the world by announcing on Saturday that they were temporarily suspending entry visas to everyone except holders of diplomatic passports.
This latest move, which is due to come into effect on Tuesday, March 17th, does not apply to anyone who has been issued with a UAE visa before that date.
In a statement carried by Gulf News, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said the move was taken as a precautionary measure to help stop the coronavirus from spreading.
The new rules will remain in place until countries with departures to Dubai can medically screen passengers.
“The ICA affirms that the decision stems from the UAE’s deep sense of responsibility and diligent efforts in collaboration with other countries of the world to fight the coronavirus pandemic and survive this on-going crisis,” the statement added.
Along with the new visa requirements, the UAE has also temporarily suspended all flights to and from Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq from March 17th, until further notice.
Despite the new visa restrictions, both Emirates and the Dubai Airport authorities are reporting that passengers holding a passport from the following list of countries can still obtain an entry visa:
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- Italy (from Rome only)
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- The Vatican
The statement does point out, however, that passengers from any of these countries may be subject to additional screening.
As of yesterday, Saturday the 14th of March, there have been a total of 85 cases of the coronavirus reported in Dubai.
Air travel could be suspended
The truth is that we are all in unchartered waters as nothing like the coronavirus has ever happened before in a world where frequent international travel is a regular part of life.
Unfortunately, politicians are forced to walk a fine line, having to balance public health and safety with the health of the economy.
If Europe is to continue along this path, the suspension of air travel has to be a serious consideration and is something the UAE might also want to think about.