Emirates has suspended flights to three Australian cities, stranding hundreds of Australians in the process.
From Tuesday next week, the airline will stop flying to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane indefinitely.
There were already fewer flights than normal coming into Australia due to the coronavirus-induced border closure, and caps on the number of passengers allowed on the planes that are still flying here to ease pressure on the nation’s quarantine facilities.
So why has Emirates decided to suspend three of its routes?
Why did Emirates suspend flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane?
The airline has said it “remains committed to Australia and continues to operate twice-weekly flights to/from Perth”.
We don’t have any more information about the reasoning behind the decision beyond that.
A week ago, National Cabinet temporarily slashed the cap on international passengers in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia due to the threat of the new COVID-19 strain from the UK, while Victoria was already operating at a lower capacity after its outbreak.
New in-flight and in-airport measures on passengers and aircrews were also implemented.
What will happen to the people who already had Emirates flights booked?
Emirates’ last flights to and from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are as follows:
- Dubai-Melbourne — EK408/January 19
- Melbourne-Dubai — EK409/January 20
- Dubai-Sydney — EK414/January 18
- Sydney-Dubai — EK415/January 19
- Dubai-Brisbane — EK430/January 16
- Brisbane-Dubai — EK431/January 1
The airline has said customers who already have Emirates tickets with the final destination of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane won’t be accepted for travel at their point of origin unlessthey’re booked onto one of the above flights.
Emirates said it “regrets any inconvenience caused”.
Travellers impacted by the suspension have been told to contact their travel agent or the Emirates contact centre directly for rebooking options.
The airline added: “To receive updated notifications, customers are requested to ensure their contact details are correct by visiting Manage Your Booking.”
How will this impact people stuck abroad?
Australians stuck overseas were already dealing with a smaller than usual number of flights and caps, making travel to Australia difficult during the pandemic.
More than 37,000 Australians are stuck overseas at the moment.
But the Government has said Emirates’ decision to suspend flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane won’t have a net impact on the number of available seats on flights to Australia.
That’s because they’re planning on reallocating spaces left by Emirates’ sudden decision to other airlines operating in the region.
The Government’s also just announced plans to schedule another 20 repatriation flights to bring stranded Australians home.
Acting Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said at a press conference today: “We want to see the cap utilised across the states and territories and our additional flights are going to create additional places over and above that cap.”
Those lucky enough to nab a seat on one of the flights will either be taken to the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory or to similar accommodation in Canberra and Tasmania to quarantine.
When will Emirates start flying to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane again?
We don’t know the answer to this yet either.
The airline has said the decision is “indefinite”.
When contacted for comment, Emirates pointed the ABC to this statement on its website.
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