The UK has banned direct passenger flights to and from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Friday, shutting down the world’s busiest international airline between Dubai and London.
Britain has said it is adding the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its coronavirus travel ban list over concerns over the spread of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 and potentially vaccine resistant first identified in South Africa.
“This means that people who have been or have passed through these countries will be refused entry, with the exception of UK, Irish and third country nationals with the right to stay who must self-isolate for ten days at home, ”UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on social media. Thursday.
Emirates and Etihad Airways have said on their websites they will suspend all UK passenger flights on Friday when the ban takes effect.
The UK Transport Department has advised UK nationals currently in the UAE to use indirect trade air routes if they wish to return to Britain.
Dubai-London was the world’s busiest international route in January with 190,365 seats planned for the month, according to airline data provider OAG.
The UAE is home to thousands of British expats and has been a popular destination for social media influencers during the pandemic, which created anger in the UK by claiming to have traveled for work and posting holiday photos online. The country is currently locked down with people who must not travel abroad.
Dubai last week quelled its entertainment scene and suspended non-essential surgeries in hospitals after an increase in coronavirus cases.
One of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has made a name for itself this winter in the northern hemisphere as an open, sunny escape without quarantine.
However, COVID-19 infections have increased since the new year.
The UAE’s domestic carriers, Emirates and Etihad, also typically carry large numbers of connecting passengers from Britain to destinations such as Australia, so the decision to cancel flights will have implications for great reach.
The Australian government has said it will add more charter flights from Britain if needed due to the ban.
Eran Ben-Avraham, an Australian stranded in Britain due to strict limits on the number of arrivals to Australia, said his options to return home were continually shrinking.
“At the moment, he only gives us three options to fly with Qatar, ANA or Singapore Airlines,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Every day it is harder to come home. Return flights cost approximately 4,000 pounds ($ 5,487). ”