First they were here. Then they weren’t. Now they’re coming back. All in the space of a week!
It’s no wonder that Australian airline passengers, the nation’s aviation industry, and even the Federal Government is thoroughly confused by Emirates latest announcement that it is resuming previously cancelled flights into Australia from tomorrow (Monday).
The Dubai’s-based carrier’s flight into Sydney is due on Monday, followed by the flight into Melbourne on Tuesday and Brisbane on Thursday. Flights into Perth, as well as cargo flights to all Australian destinations, continue as normal.
Cancellations announced on 16 January
Emirates’ surprising backflip came just a week after it announced on 16 January the immediate cancellation of its passenger schedule to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
At the time, industry sources said the decision was taken by the airline because the passenger arrival caps in were temporarily halved by the Australian Government to help states manage the flow of travellers potentially exposed to the UK strain of Covid-19, which is spreading globally.
In addition, National Cabinet also imposed new, more stringent, in-flight and in-airport measures on passengers and aircrews.
Tougher for stranded Aussies to return
The decision threatened to make it even harder for Australians stranded overseas to return home, and the Federal Government then stepped in and promised to introduce 20 additional repatriation flights to bring home priority cases.
Announcing the reversal of its decision, Emirates said in a statement: “We regret the inconvenience caused to our customers in the period where we had to temporarily suspend our services.
“The pandemic has made international flying incredibly challenging and the dynamic restrictions and requirements implemented by the different state authorities in Australia had added complexity and burden to our operations.”
Flight crews will observe self-quarantine
The statement continued: “This led us to temporarily suspend passenger services while we engaged with various stakeholders regarding crew protocols and other operational details.
“With the latest adjustments, these tests will be administered in their homes and our crew will also observe self-quarantine in their homes from the moment of testing until their flight.
“Combined with the hotel quarantine and tests on arrival in Australia, this effectively means that our crew are in a bubble from 48 hours before their flight, until they return to Dubai.”