Passengers on Emirates and Etihad Airways will need to show a negative Covid-19 test result before they're allowed to fly, in accordance with strict new rules introduced by the UAE.
The requirement comes into force on August 1 and applies to any traveller regardless of if they're transiting through the airline's Dubai and Abu Dhabi hubs, or if the UAE is their final destination.
Although most Australians are prohibited from leaving the country, those who qualify for an exemption and plan to travel on either of the Gulf airlines will need to visit an airline-authorised testing centre within 96 hours of their flight (exemptions will be made for children under 12 and anybody with "moderate to severe disabilities").
While this system is already in place for travellers from a dozen countries, as of August 1 it will be expanded to every passenger on every Emirates or Etihad flight, with a printed copy of your negative test result being shown at the airport check-in desk: no test, no ticket.
Where to get a Covid-19 test before an Emirates, Etihad flight
Emirates advises that "if the UAE government has specified a designated laboratory in your country of origin, then you must get your certificate from that lab," and links to an online list which at the time of writing doesn't include any Australian test centres.
"If it is not specified, please use an accredited lab in your country of departure," the airline continues, without fully specifying what an "accredited lab" means.
The Etihad website says that passengers "must arrange your test with a Pure Health medical facility if there are approved clinics in your country of departure – test results from other clinics will not be accepted. If there are no approved Pure Health facilities in your city or country of departure, please refer to our list of locally approved medical clinics to arrange your COVID-19 PCR test."
Pure Health – the largest private operator of UAE laboratories – lists a number of 'screening facilities' run by Laverty Pathology in the ACT and NSW; Dorevitch Pathology in Victoria; QML Pathology in Queensland; Abbott Pathology in South Australia; TML Pathology in Tasmania; and Western Diagnostics in WA.
However, any would-be travellers in Australia who plan on flying with Emirates or Etihad Airways on or after August 1 are advised to confirm the details of their nearest approved Covid-19 testing centre with the airline.
As previously reported, Emirates now offers "COVID-19 cover" to its Australian travellers, although this doesn't include the cost of government-required quarantine measures.