Executive Traveller exclusive
Emirates says it will resume passenger flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next week, despite the number of arriving passengers permitted in those cities being slashed by 50%.
The Gulf carrier and Qantas partner announced on January 15 that it was suspending flights to those cities "until further notice", following the temporary reduction in the weekly arrivals cap beginning on that date, and its schedule showed no return for those flights until the start of April.
However, a spokesperson for Emirates tells Executive Traveller that flights to Sydney will now restart from January 25, with Melbourne from January 26 and Brisbane from January 28.
"We regret the inconvenience caused to our customers in the period where we had to temporarily suspend our services," the spokesperson said.
Emirates blamed "the dynamic restrictions and requirements implemented by the different state authorities in Australia" for its earlier decision to suspend flights, saying "the pandemic has made international flying incredibly challenging."
Australia's strict quarantine rules "added complexity and burden to our operations" resulting in "an added burden for our crew as individuals, for our rostering, and operating costs, and therefore this decision was made after careful review and consideration."
"This led us to temporarily suspend passenger services while we engaged with various stakeholders regarding crew protocols and other operational details."
"Following this engagement, we’ve made the decision to resume services with adjustments to our operations, so that we can continue serving our customers."
Under the current limits on inbound travellers, Emirates will be allowed to fill only a few dozen of the 360 seats on its Boeing 777-300ER jets.
The Emirates spokesperson tells Executive Traveller that "in most cases a large portion of our seats are allocated to economy class travellers with the remainder allocated to first and business class travellers."
"This proportion varies for each flight and depends on several factors including connectivity beyond Dubai and size of groups travelling together."
As many as 40,000 Australians remain stranded overseas almost a year after the pandemic began.
As previously reported, the federal government is now working with Qantas to run 20 special repatriation flights across February and March to "bring people back from the United Kingdom, Europe, India and other places where vulnerable Australians are most in need of assistance."
PREVIOUS [January 19, 2021] Emirates expects to resume passenger flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in April, after last week dramatically pausing these services “until further notice” – but snaring a seat on those flights will prove very expensive.
From early April Emirates is selling only its eight first class suites on its Boeing 777-300ER jets, at prices starting at around AED22,000 (A$7,770) per person – so a family of four Australians trying to get home will be up for just over $31,000.
Across mid-to-late April, seats in the Boeing 777's business class cabin become available on selected Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane flights – at prices ranging from $5,600 to $6,900.
Emirates has blocked economy seats from sale until May: but even then, fares remain high across the board.
In the first week of May, a one-way flight from Dubai to Brisbane costs around $7,780 in first class, $5,740 in business class and $2,380 in economy class:
Emirates continues flying to Perth during its east coast shutdown, but those flights also show many cases where only first class or business class is available.
Australia's ongoing cap on arriving passengers sets a limit of around 7,500 arrivals per week; this in turn restricts airlines to carrying as little as 30-50 passengers on aircraft intended for 250-350 people.
Between now and April, Emirates will continue flying its planes to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but will carry only cargo on both the inbound and outbound flights.
Once passenger services resume in April, travellers will be able to fly on the following days, subject to relevant passenger caps and other travel restrictions:
- Dubai-Sydney (EK414): Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays
- Sydney-Dubai (EK415): Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
- Dubai-Melbourne (EK408): Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
- Melbourne-Dubai (EK409): Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays
- Dubai-Brisbane (EK430): Thursdays, Saturdays
- Brisbane-Dubai (EK431): Sundays, Fridays