United Arab Emirates-based Etihad is due to start regular commercial flights again as soon as the 16th of May. The airline is now taking bookings for multiple dates to several destinations. Etihad is working with the government to get its schedule sorted and work around international travel restrictions. Previously, the airline had hoped to restart a regular schedule from the 1st of May.
Travel restrictions and fares
Despite international travel restrictions remaining in place around the world, Etihad has opened its website for bookings for flights from Saturday, the 16th of May. The airline said it was working with its government as well as several aviation authorities to keep its schedule as up to date as possible. Flights, which had been due to restart after the 1st of the month, have been delayed as the situation in the UAE is yet to change and borders are still closed.
The airline warned that further changes are possible, stating that “as the current suspension remains in place, this situation may change and Etihad will communicate any changes in due course.” If Etihad is working with the government to create its schedule, then the UAE may have plans to ease travel restrictions to and from the country on or before the 16th.
Due to the ever-changing situation, Etihad is currently only offering flex fares. All other fare options mean the passenger is either unable to change the date of the flight or must pay a fee. With the flex fare, any changes to the flight will not result in the customer being charged. Passengers can also claim a refund without paying a fee.
Even if the schedule is not delayed further, the flights themselves will be limited. Etihad’s website currently states, “Our aim is to gradually return to a fuller schedule as soon as it is safe for us to do so.”
The current routes available to book include a flight from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai available from the 16th. A return flight is also available from the next day. Also due to commence on the 16th is a flight to Kochi with another flight on the 18th. India is due to leave lockdown on the 3rd of May, although this may change.
Etihad is also selling tickets for flights to Manila in the Philippines. The first flight is due to leave on Sunday the 17th of May. There is also the option to buy one-way tickets to Sri Lanka with a flight to Colombo scheduled to leave Abu Dhabi on the 16th. Passengers can also fly to Islamabad from the 17th of May. There are also seats available for flights to the UK. Starting from the 16th, a regular service will begin connecting Abu Dhabi to London’s Heathrow. A return journey is also available on the airline’s website.
Before the 16th
Although the airline is hoping to restart regular commercial flights from the 16th of May, they are currently flying a series of repatriation flights. Theses flights will allow UAE citizens around the world to return home. Foreign nationals in the UAE can also use these flights to leave the country, and Etihad can carry cargo and essential supplies.
There are 14 destinations currently being served by Etihad’s select flights. These include; Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Zurich, Chicago, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo.
While Etihad may seem optimistic about planning flights for mid-May, it goes show that airlines are starting to think about what happens next. As countries lift travel restrictions at different times, it is likely to be a clumsy, uncoordinated return to regular scheduling. But at least a return to normal does appear to be on the horizon.