Emirates, Etihad return to the skies with a focus on rescue flights

Limited repatriation flights from Emirates and Etihad represent a small restart for their once-sprawling networks.

By David Flynn, April 8 2020
Emirates, Etihad return to the skies with a focus on rescue flights

Emirates and Etihad are back in the air, albeit in a modest and measured way, following a selective easing of travel bansimposed by the UAE.

The Gulf nation is now permitting both airlines to fly passengers out of the UAE to selected destinations, although travel can't be booked  through Dubai or Abu Dhabi airports to a final destination due to the UAE's ongoing ban on transit passengers.

Emirates' restart roster lists flights from Dubai to London (with four flights per week) along with Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich (each at three flights per week) – the schedule currently doesn't extend to Australia.

The Qantas partner will rely on its fleet of two-class Boeing 777-300ER jets, with fares available in both business class and economy.

Emirates' near neighbour and staunch competitor Etihad Airways is threading its own network of Boeing 787 repatriation flights from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne, Amsterdam, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul and Singapore.

Etihad's flight to Melbourne (EY460) will run each weekday from April 8 to April 21, with a 6pm wheels-up from Abu Dhabi to reach Melbourne at 1.15pm local time.

Etihad's repatriation flight schedule
Etihad's repatriation flight schedule

The airline says these flights "allow passengers stranded in the UAE due to COVID-19 restrictions, the opportunity to return home", as well as "repatriating UAE citizens on return sectors, where possible, and carry fresh produce as belly-hold cargo, on the return segments back to Abu Dhabi."

Bookings can be made through Etihad's website, mobile app or call centre, or through local or online travel agencies.

Qatar Airways continues to offer a ramped-up schedule of flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to the rest of the world via its hub at Doha's Hamad International Airport, which remains open to passengers in transit.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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