Covid-19 in UAE: 400 vaccinated passengers on special Emirates flight

Dubai - It was a surreal experience for many, who hadn’t flown since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago.

By Abdul Karim Hanif

Published: Sat 10 Apr 2021, 8:59 PM

Around 400 passengers boarded, all of whom were vaccinated and carried a negative test result for Covid-19 on the special Emirates flight coded EK 2021. Aside from the passengers, all of the ground staff, cabin crew and the pilots were also vaccinated personnel nominated to be a part of the flight, according to the airline. It was added that 85% of the airline’s staff has so far been vaccinated.

An A380 aircraft was used for the milestone flight, which took the passengers above the skies on a circuit around the country several times, coasting at an altitude of 17,000ft. The aircraft was also labelled with the official tagline, ‘choose to vaccinate,’ in a bid to encourage the public to join the national inoculation drive. The label was also stamped on the boarding cards of every passenger.

It was a surreal experience for many, who hadn’t flown since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago. In addition to being pampered with onboard hospitality, the passengers soaked in the atmosphere of being inside the cabin whilst also capturing the moments of flying past the nation’s iconic landmarks.

Economy class passengers paid Dh1,000 while those travelling on Business class paid Dh 2,000 to be a part of the historic journey and walk away with commemorative certificates. The airline said that all revenue generated would be donated to Emirates Airline Foundation that supports underprivileged children across the globe.

The special EK 2021 can be viewed as a trailer of what to expect when the vaccine passports become a reality, offering a seamless and comfortable flight for those onboard. According to Emirates Airlines press statement, the Milestone flight highlights the UAE’s impressive vaccination drive and readiness of its aviation industry for travel rebound.

“This flight demonstrates the safety of travel and the achievements made through the appropriate implementation of the measures which can help us return to the normal operations which we are used to,” said Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer for Emirates.

The COO further noted that a high turnout of passengers demonstrates the confidence the public has in the country’s aviation and health sectors. “We want to show the world and encourage them to start flying again and reinstate travel through following the right protocols.”

Along with the paid passengers, the flight also carried senior government officials and representatives of the government bodies. All of the passengers were wearing their facemasks on board, a move which was endorsed by senior officials from the medical sector.

Dr Farida Al Khaja, CEO of Medical Support Services and Nursing Sector said that despite being vaccinated, masks continue to play an important role in protecting oneself and others around them.

“Vaccines help you in being protected at a high percentage and also others around you, however, considering the extent of the pandemic across the world we still have to wear our masks. Wearing them is an essential part of our protection and we will have to wait till almost everyone across the world is vaccinated till we can say it might be safe to remove the mask,” said Dr Al Khaja.

For many passengers, it was a moment that was worth being part of which also allowed them to make a charitable contribution. UAE residents for the last two decades, Maggie and Simon Neil were amongst the passengers who paid Dh2,000 each for the business class seat on board.

“We hadn’t been on a plane for over a year and we really wanted to be a part of it. We are both vaccinated which we believe is important for safe travels and to top that, our fare will go towards helping those in need,” the couple added.

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