Bahrain based carrier Gulf Air has restarted operations for transit passengers between Europe and the Philippines. Passengers traveling from London, Paris and Frankfurt will be allowed to transit through Bahrain International Airport in order to continue onwards to Manila. However, passengers traveling on Gulf Air will not be allowed into Bahrain.
Gulf Air will resume operations
Reuters reported over the weekend that transit operations were set to resume through Bahrain International Airport. Gulf Air, the nation’s carrier, is planning to facilitate some transit flights, but passengers will still not be allowed to enter Bahrain. Only Bahrainis and other permanent residents will be allowed to immigrate to the country.
The state-owned airline has announced plans to offer transit flights to connect London Heathrow, Paris (CDG) and Frankfurt with Manila in the Philippines, via its home airport. In a Twitter post, the airline said,
“In compliance with the new regulations issued by the Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority, we are welcoming back transit passengers through Bahrain International Airport. Arrival into Bahrain remains restricted to nationals and residents.”
In compliance with the new regulations issued by the Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority, we are welcoming back transit passengers through Bahrain International Airport, arrival into Bahrain remains restricted to nationals and residents#طيران_الخليج #البحرين#GulfAir #Bahrain pic.twitter.com/pbYeobgnER
— Gulf Air (@GulfAir) April 4, 2020
Bahrain was previously a key transit hub for passengers moving between west and east. The hub provided connections between key European cities and various destinations in India and southeast Asia.
More flights in the Middle East
Gulf Air joins its neighbors Emirates and Etihad in resuming flights, although the UAE airlines’ servies are noted to be just repatriation flights right now. Emirates has resumed flying on a limited schedule to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Brussels and Zurich, while Etihad is flying to Seoul, Melbourne, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Amsterdam.
A General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) spokesperson is reported by CH-Aviation to have stated that these flights are only open to UAE-based foreign nationals wishing to return home, and that the ongoing suspension of commercial passenger flights is still being maintained until the 8th April.
Conversely, Gulf Air appears to be offering these flights on a commercial basis. As an example, the next flight to London is scheduled for Wednesday 8th April, leaving Bahrain at 01:40. Operated using Gulf Air’s 787-9 Dreamliner, the service arrives into London Heathrow at 06:55.
Electronic bracelets distributed
So far, Bahrain has reported 684 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of these, 423 have been noted to have recovered from the infection and four have sadly died. This is according to an update in Gulf News this week.
As part of the push to prevent the virus from spreading, the government of Bahrain has begun distributing electronic bracelets, designed to keep track of those with active coronavirus infections. These work alongside the government’s tracing app, known as ‘BeAware’, in order to locate and keep track of COVID-19 patients and their contacts.
The kingdom’s Information and e-Government Authority (iGA) CEO Mohammed Ali Al Qaed told Gulf News that,
“The decision issued by Minister of Health, Faeqa Bint Saed Al Saleh, obliges self-isolating individuals to wear the electronic bracelet that will notify the monitoring station when they are 15 metres away from their phone, in which case a warning will be sent.”
Violators could be sent to prison for at least three months or fined up to $27,000.
Do you think Bahrain reopening for transit passengers is a good idea? Would you risk flying right now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.