Emirates And Qatar Airways To Resume Flights To Australia
Major global airlines Emirates and Qatar Airways have become the latest to confirm they are restarting some of their international flights to Australia.
Sydney and Melbourne are among the nine destinations Emirates will be operating flights to when it resumes some passenger flights from next week.
As well as Australian-bound flights, from May 21 Emirates will also fly to London, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid and Chicago.
The United Arab Emirates carrier announced on Thursday it would also offer connections in Dubai for customers travelling between the U.K. and Australia.
But with strict border restrictions in place in many countries around the world including Australia, Emirates has warned only travellers who meet eligibility and entry criteria requirements of their destination countries will be allowed to board the flights.
"This includes approval from the Federal Authority for Identify and Citizenship (ICA) for UAE residents who wish to return to Dubai," a spokesperson for the airline said on Thursday.
Chief Operating Officer Adel Ahmad Al Redha said the airline was working closely with authorities to plan the resumption of these flights.
"The safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and communities, remain our top priority," Al Redha said.
The airline has also promised strict additional health and safety measures have been put in place for on the ground and in the air operations, to maintain social distancing measures and sanitisation.
These will include temperature checks for passengers and staff at Dubai International Airport, protective barriers and the mandatory use of gloves and masks at the airport for both customers and employees.
In addition, any staff including cabin crew, boarding agents or ground staff who interact directly with travellers will be required to wear personal protective equipment, including a protective disposable gown and safety visor.
Changes will be made while in the air too, with magazines and printed reading materials removed and all cabin baggage, outside of essential items such as laptops, handbags, briefcases or baby items now needing to be checked-in.
The planes themselves will also go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection after each journey and on landing in Dubai, a spokesperson said on Thursday.
The airline will also be continuing with its repatriation flights to return visitors and residents from Dubai to places including Tokyo, Conakry and Dakar later this week.
Qatar To Operate 21 Australian Flights
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has announced it will also be resuming some services to Australia.
From May 20 the airline will be resume services to Brisbane with three-weekly flights to the city, offering 46 seats in Business Class and 281 Economy Class seats.
But the airline has also stressed the flights are for "critical passenger movements" which are hoped to alleviate anxieties for stranded passengers around the world, CEO Akbar Al Baker said.
It comes after the airline previously received short-term approval to operate flights to the city between March and April to repatriate more than 5,000 travellers and transport over 270 tonnes of cargo.
"Our flights also provided Australians with an opportunity to come back home from various parts of the world including Europe, the Gulf and the Middle East, Asia, and others," Al Baker said
"We successfully completed this task, but now there are more travellers wanting to get home."
In total Qatar will operate 21 passenger flights to Australia every week under the new changes, including four-weekly flights to Perth and daily flights to Melbourne and Sydney.
The airline said it would also be maintaining strict hygiene protocols, including regular disinfection of aircraft.
Etihad Resumes Flights To Melbourne
Thursday's announcement from Emirates and Qatar comes days after Etihad Airways also announced it would begin offering Melbourne-London flights from Friday, and London-Melbourne via Abu Dhabi flights from May 21.
Etihad has implemented an "an extensive sanitisation and safety programme" both on flights and at airports and recommends travellers wear a face mask.
"Onboard, we'll make sure you are seated with as much space as possible between every guest, and we'll offer our food and drinks service in line with important Covid-19 guidelines," a statement on Etihad's website said.
Passengers will not be allowed to disembark at Abu Dhabi and must remain on board.
'Do Not Travel' Remains In Place
Despite the new flights, the Australian border remains closed except to citizens and permanent residents, immediate family, or New Zealand citizens who normally reside in Australia.
Those who enter the country must also self-isolate at a hotel for 14 days.
All overseas travel from Australia is also still currently listed as "banned" on the Smart Traveller website, with few exceptions.
On Wednesday, Australia's Chief Medical Officer provided a grim prediction for international travel, claiming he cannot see a point in time Australians will be able to travel abroad again.
Professor Brendan Murphy told a Senate committee there is “no clear road map” out of the international lockdown.
“I cannot see border measures (being lifted), they will be one of the last things to go,” Murphy said.
“Two-thirds of our cases have been overseas-acquired and recent analysis in academic literature has shown that those countries that have done the best have introduced border measures,” he added.
“I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong vigour won’t be necessary.”
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