Etihad Expects Passenger Surge As Abu Dhabi Opens For The Vaccinated

The government of Abu Dhabi recently announced that it would remove its quarantine requirement for all international arrivals if they are fully vaccinated. With this exciting news in mind, Etihad Airways said in a September 2nd statement that it is prepared for this boost in travel for those wishing to fly in and out of the emirate.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landing
With the airline’s 777-300ER fleet set to fully retire this year, the 787 will be the backbone of Etihad’s long-haul fleet. Photo: Getty Images

“The news is perfectly timed to begin welcoming the world back to Abu Dhabi. We expect a huge surge in demand from tourists and visiting friends and relatives from around the world. This will also give UAE residents greater flexibility and peace of mind when travelling globally.” -Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad

Abu Dhabi opens up

Etihad Airways says that it’s “prepared for a boost in travel to and from Abu Dhabi,” as the government recently announced that it would allow vaccinated arrivals to skip quarantine.

According to a government post on Twitter, the emirate of Abu Dhabi will remove its need to quarantine all vaccinated travelers arriving from international destinations starting Sunday, September 5th.

There are a few things to note about this policy change. Firstly, fully vaccinated travelers must have had vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. Secondly, a pre-departure PCR test is required.

While some countries like the UK permit several types of tests as far as 72 hours prior to departure, Abu Dhabi’s pre-departure testing is a little more strict. Indeed, travelers will require a PCR test within 48 hours of departure. In addition to this, a test on arrival will be required, as well as retesting on select days, depending on the country of origin.

Etihad prepared for a surge

Expecting a “huge surge” from tourists and those visiting friends and relatives, Etihad Group CEO Tony Douglas says his airline is ready for the uptick in demand, saying:

“Etihad is currently operating to 65 passenger destinations with one of the world’s youngest and most sustainable fleets. We look forward to welcoming our guests to Abu Dhabi with Etihad to enjoy this world-class destination – an emirate and capital city we’re so proud to call our home.”

Douglas also adds that the emirate has an “extremely high vaccination rate” and a robust contact-tracing app to provide a high minimum level of public safety for both residents and visitors.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landing
Etihad is expecting more passengers due to EXPO 2020 in October and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December. Photo: Getty Images

Enough passengers to reactivate the A380?

In the past, Douglas was fairly clear that he doesn’t expect a return of the Airbus A380 for Etihad. However, the CEO hasn’t entirely ruled it out either.

Speaking to Simple Flying at the end of August, Douglas revealed that there’s an incredibly slim chance that the aircraft could return to Etihad, saying:

“You never say never in life on just about anything…If the big thick routes come back post-pandemic, if the volume, i.e. the load factors get back to high utilization, but most importantly… the yield on the ticket gets back, it can be economically viable to get [the A380s] back into the air. Nothing would give us greater satisfaction.”

Etihad Airways Airbus A380
Etihad has parked its A380s ‘indefinitely’, which leaves a small possibility that they could return. Photo: Getty Images

Etihad’s statement on its ‘surge preparedness’ notes that the UAE will see a number of big events in the coming months, including but not limited to:

  • October’s EXPO 2020 in Dubai
  • November’s Dubai Airshow 2021
  • December’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix F1 (sponsored by Etihad)

Like many things in life- especially when it comes to this crisis – it’s a game of waiting and seeing how things unfold. There will surely be an increase in travel in and out of Abu Dhabi; it’s just a matter of how big this increase will be.

With this recent news, will you be traveling to Abu Dhabi in the near future? Let us know by leaving a comment.