Coronavirus: UAE airlines suspend some flights, reduce frequency

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Coronavirus, UAE airlines, suspend, some, flights, reduce, frequency

Dubai - India's flag carrier Air India (AI) will continue operating flights to India from the UAE.

by Anjana Sankar

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Published: Wed 18 Mar 2020, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 18 Mar 2020, 8:31 PM

 As the world is battling the Covid-19 war by shutting down borders and imposing travel restrictions, airlines across the world are suspending or reducing services to many affected countries. UAE airlines have also taken precautionary measures amid the spread of the coronavirus and also a dip in demand in air travel is being seen.
Etihad suspends more flights
Abu Dhabi's Etihad airline announced on Wednesday, March 18, that it would suspend more flights from Abu Dhabi as more preventive measures are being announced by the UAE and international governments.
It has reduced its daily flights to Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai.
The airline has also temporarily suspended all flights to Baku, Cairo, Amman, Saudi Arabia, Nairobi, Kuwait and Lebanon among other destinations.
"This is being carried out for the safety and convenience of our customers and staff, and to minimise operational disruption during this period," said the airline. The airline has also reduced frequency of flights from daily twice to daily and from daily to a few times a week as the demand has dropped.
For instance, Bangalore flights are reduced from twice a day to daily, starting from March 20 until April 30. Flights to Chennai from Abu Dhabi are reduced from twice a day to daily from March 23 until April 30. Flights to Cochin are reduced from three flights a day to twice-daily from Friday until April 30. Hyderabad-Abu Dhabi flights are reduced from twice-daily to daily from Friday and Delhi-Abu Dhabi flights are reduced from four flights a day to three from today until March 28. To Mumbai, instead of the four flights, there will only be three daily flights from today until April 30.
To Bahrain, it has reduced from three to a single flight a day until March 31; which will be increased to two flights from April 1. To Oman, the service is reduced from three to two flights a day until April 30.
Etihad has also asked passengers whose flights are impacted by Covid-19 travel restrictions to refrain from calling the airline's customer service lines unless their flights are scheduled within the next 48 hours.
"Contact centres are currently experiencing significant congestion and long waits. The immediate priority is to assist those guests with imminent travel," said the airline. The airline has also warned that "future changes to the route network may occur due to government directives in key markets."
Dubai-based flydubai has cancelled flights to 19 destinations including India starting Tuesday. The suspension will last till March 31, as per an update on the low-cost airline's website.
"Following a directive from the authorities in India, flydubai flights to and from India will be cancelled between March 17 and 31." The airline flies to Indian cities including Kochi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, Sudan are some of the other countries where services are suspended.
Emirates Airlines
Emirates airline has announced suspension of services to as many as 35 destinations till Wednesday as precautionary measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Khartoum, Algeirs, Tunis, Cairo are among the latest destinations to where flights are suspended starting Wednesday. Flights to Casablanca have also been suspended till the end of this month.
The airline had already announced suspension of flights to Cairo, Tunis, Barcelona, Mexico and Madrid.
"The situation remains dynamic and our flight schedules may change at short notice to comply with regulatory directives or operational requirements," the airline said on its website. "We aim to provide affected customers with updated information as early as possible."
Air India to continue service: Official
India's flag carrier Air India (AI) will continue operating flights to India from the UAE, the airline has said. However, the frequency of flights has been reduced until April 30, an Air India official told Khaleej Times.
Starting March 17-21, AI will have three flights a week to Kochi-Dubai and back, and four flights a week to and from Chennai. Two flights will operate on the Goa, Bangalore sector, and another four flights on Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode routes. There will be daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi starting March 17. However, AI has asked passengers to check country-wise travel restrictions that have been introduced due to Covid-19. "Passengers are requested to ensure that their contact details are updated and to present the self-declaration form at the health and immigration counters in Indian airports," said the official.  

Anjana Sankar

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