The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has undertaken a mission to evacuate Arab nationals from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. 215 people from 11 nations were rescued this morning, traveling in comfort on an Etihad A380.
Middle East airline Etihad was roped in to conduct a humanitarian mission to Wuhan to rescue stranded foreign nationals. The airline operated a giant Airbus A380 to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak to provide transportation for an estimated 215 individuals to get out of the province.
On board the flight were individuals from nations including Syria, Iraq, Mauritania, Sudan, Brazil, Egypt and Jordan, according to reporting in The National. Their rescue was requested by the respective governments of their countries, and the UAE stepped in to evacuate the persons concerned.
The flight was operated under a special flight number, EY8008. It used an Airbus A380 registered A6-APE to conduct the eight and a half hour flight across Asia. According to FlightRadar24.com, the mission was due to leave Wuhan at 04:00 this morning local time, but the plane didn’t get underway until just after 5am. After an uneventful flight, the aircraft touched down in Abu Dhabi at 09:32 this morning.
A representative of Etihad told The National,
“The flight, which arrived shortly after 9.30am, evacuated 215 students from 11 nations, and in some cases their family members, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
“All of the students, mostly of Arabic nationalities, tested clear of the virus before departure and a specialist medical team provided by UAE health authorities accompanied the group as a further precautionary measure.
“Additional medical screening was implemented by medical authorities on arrival in Abu Dhabi.”
The 215 passengers must have had a very comfortable trip on board, as this A380 is configured with 496 seats, 417 in economy alone. That’s almost enough for every passenger to have a double seat to themselves. It’s not known whether any were allowed to indulge in the nine first lass or 70 business class seats on board though.
Undoubtedly, Etihad will be conducting a thorough cleaning of the aircraft before scheduling it on any other routes. The A380 used was Etihad’s special ‘choose the UK’ livery, unveiled in October last year.
Etihad 12 (A6-APE – A388) ADNOC Choose the United Kingdom livery of @EtihadAirways banking out of 27R @HeathrowAirport as #ey12 to Abu Dhabi
18-01-2020#etihadairways #airbus #airbusa380 #a380 #heathrowairport #aviation #avgeek pic.twitter.com/1x7lu10mWi
— Seán Noel O'Connell (@Shamrock715_) January 27, 2020
A letter from the Sheik
In an interesting twist, Gulf News reports that a Sudanese student who was one of the passengers on board the rescue flight discovered a letter in his quarantine room when he arrived. The letter was from none other than the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed.
" نريدك ان تطمئن بأنك بين أهلك وأصدقائك " ..رسالة صاحب السمو الشيخ #محمد_بن_زايد الى الطلبة من الدول الشقيقة والصديقة الذين تكفلت الدولة بإجلائهم من مقاطعة هوبي الصينية إلى الإمارات لتلقي الرعاية الصحية اللازمة ثم عودتهم لأوطانهم #الإمارات_وطن_الإنسانية pic.twitter.com/MRgyZhr9d8
— علوم الدار (@oloumaldar) March 4, 2020
The student shared the letter on his Twitter feed, which apparently read,
“We know the difficulty of leaving a place where you had a safe home, especially as you are leaving because of an unexpected crisis to a new land where you may not know anyone. That’s why we would love to welcome you in person.
“We want to assure you that you are among your family and friends and that you are a dear guest and we will provide you with complete health care and all you need to continue the trip to your home country when that was safe for you.”
The note suggests that, following a period of quarantine, all the rescued individuals will be provided with transportation onwards to their home countries. It is not known yet if Etihad will provide this transport.
What do you think about Etihad’s A380 rescue mission? Let us know in the comments.