Etihad restarts Melbourne-London flights, but UAE transit ban remains

Etihad Airways will run weekly flights from Melbourne to London via Abu Dhabi beginning May 15.

By Chris Chamberlin, May 12 2020
Etihad restarts Melbourne-London flights, but UAE transit ban remains

Etihad Airways will resume flights between Melbourne and London via Abu Dhabi from May 15, but with a twist.

Because the United Arab Emirates continues to ban international transit passengers from connecting between different flights, Etihad will use the same plane to fly from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi, and then onward to London.

During their time in Abu Dhabi, passengers will remain on board: a clever workaround that allows people to fly through the emirate, despite the UAE's restrictions. 

Initially, flights will run once per week commencing May 15 from Australia and May 21 from the UK, which the airline says it intends to maintain until regular double-daily connections can be restored between the two cities.

Here's how the schedule shapes up:

Route

Flight numbers

Departure day

Schedule

Melbourne-Abu Dhabi-London

EY463 + EY19

Friday (Melbourne) / Saturday (Abu Dhabi)

9:45pm-5:55am(+1) / 7:15am-11:50am

London-Abu Dhabi-Melbourne

EY20 + EY460

Thursday (London) / Friday (Abu Dhabi)

1:20pm-11:25pm / 12:45am(+1)- 8:15pm

Even though the flight number changes in transit, the aircraft doesn't. Passengers will not be able to leave the aircraft and enter the terminal in Abu Dhabi during that transit.

In London, Etihad is using Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, while its normal home, Terminal 4, is closed.

On board Etihad's Australia-UK flights

At first, the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi-London route will be served by a two-class Boeing 777-300ER, offering the airline's previous-generation – yet still fully-flat – beds in business class, along with economy class seating behind.

ET review: Etihad Airways Boeing 777 business class

From May 21, that swaps to a Boeing 787-9, equipped with Etihad's Business Studio business class: pairing a more modern design with an improved inflight entertainment system, upgraded seat controls and the Dreamliner's dimmable windows, among other improvements.

ET review: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 business class

Travellers will still be subject to any entry and exit restrictions imposed by both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Australia continues to ban most outbound travel, with travellers generally required to obtain a government-granted exemption from the ban before they can check-in for their flight.

Similarly, all international passengers arriving into Australia are required to complete 14 days of quarantine in government-provided accommodation, before being allowed to return home.

On board, Etihad Airways "recommends" that passengers wear masks and aims to ensure that travellers "are seated with as much space as possible between every guest".

Also read: Etihad returns to the skies with a focus on rescue flights

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 78

Erm, no, thanks!

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 445

Etihad on a 777 almost as bad as United on a 777. Etihad has fallen so way behind EK and QR it's not funny.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1194

"Passengers will not be able to leave the aircraft and enter the terminal in Abu Dhabi during that transit."

That is a very long time to spend cooped up onboard an aircraft, particularly if you're flying down the back.


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