LONDON (UK) – Britain will be banning direct passenger flights to and from the United Arab Emirates from Friday, with this the world’s busiest international airline route from Dubai to London will be shut down.
Due to worries over the spread of a more contagious and potentially vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa, Britain said it was adding the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its COVID travel ban list .
“This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights who must self-isolate for ten days at home,” UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter on Thursday.
Emirates Airways informed through their websites that all UK passenger flights from 1300 GMT on Friday will be suspended, when the ban takes effect. Etihad Airways said they would only suspend flights to the UK, with those from the UK remaining unaffected.
Dubai airport, in a statement, advised passengers booked on flights due to arrive in the UK after the ban comes into effect to not go to the airport and instead contact their airline.
The UK transport department advised British nationals currently in the United Arab Emirates to make use of indirect commercial airline routes if they wished to return to Britain.
Due to border closures caused by COVID-19, Dubai to London was the world’s busiest international route in January with 190,365 scheduled seats over the month, according to airline data provider OAG.
The decision to cancel those flights will have far-reaching effects as.Emirates and Etihad normally carry large numbers of passengers connecting from Britain to destinations like Australia through their airport hubs, meaning
The Australian government said it will add more charter flights from Britain if needed as a result of the Emirates and Etihad cancellations.
Eran Ben-Avraham, an Australian stranded in Britain due to strict limits on the number of arrivals in Australia, said his options for getting home were continually shrinking.
“At the moment it is only giving us three options of flying Qatar, ANA or Singapore Airlines,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Every day it is making it more difficult to get home. The flights back are anywhere from like 4,000 pounds ($5,487).”