Emirates and Etihad, both flag carriers of the United Arab Emirates, have suspended flights to all destinations in mainland China except the capital city, Beijing. The move comes as international concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise.
Over the past week or so, the news has been dominated by stories of carriers canceling flights to mainland China. However, one notable absence from the list was the two UAE flag carriers. While not completely suspending flights, they have significantly cut their capacity to the Asian nation. Only flights to the Chinese capital will continue for the time being in the mainland.
Emirates has canceled two routes due to the ongoing coronavirus situation in China. This means that the carrier will not fly to Guangzhou or Shanghai from tomorrow, the 5th of February. This cessation of flights will continue until further notice according to the Dubai based carrier.
For the time being, Emirates will continue its twice-daily Airbus A380 service to Beijing. However, this will come with increased restrictions. Passengers traveling with the airline have been advised to arrive at Beijing Airport eight hours before their flight. This will allow the airline to carry out additional medical tests. When contacted for comment, Emirates directed us to a travel update on its website.
What about Etihad?
Etihad has also cut its flights to China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This means that the airline will not fly to Shanghai, similar to Emirates. However, while Etihad doesn’t fly to Guangzhou, the airline will also suspend its flights to Chengdu until further notice. An Etihad spokesperson declined to comment on the news.
Etihad has also warned that passengers traveling from Beijing will be subject to enhanced medical checks prior to being permitted access to the aircraft. However, while Emirates has said that passengers must arrive 8 hours earlier, Etihad has not given an indication to arrive at the airport early. However, the airline has said that passengers are “required to undergo comprehensive medical screening at the airport to ensure the safety of passengers”.
Why are airlines finally taking action?
The UAE flag carriers are finally taking action regarding their flights to China at the direction of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The civil aviation authority had instructed its carriers to halt flights to mainland China, with the exception of flights to Beijing.
It seems as though at present there is no indication as to when the suspension will be lifted. It is also possible that the suspension could be expanded to include Beijing before it is lifted entirely.
Were you due to fly to China with Etihad or Emirates? Is the suspension good or an overreaction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!