By Sam Bridge
CEO of Abu Dhabi-based airline says 'unprecedented' decision being made to help prevent the spread of new coronavirus
Etihad Airways said on Monday it will temporarily suspend all flights to, from, and via Abu Dhabi from the end of Wednesday.
The decision follows an earlier announcement from the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority to suspend all inbound, outbound, and transit passenger flights in the UAE.
This suspension has been made to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and to protect citizens, residents, and international travellers, Etihad said in a statement.
It added that flights to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport will stop at 11.59pm (UAE local time) on Wednesday and will last for an initial 14 days, subject to further directives by the relevant authorities.
Cargo and emergency evacuation flights are exempt and will continue, the statement said.
Tony Douglas, Group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “These are unprecedented times and unprecedented decisions are being made by governments, authorities and companies, including Etihad, to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to help minimise its effects around the world.
“We stand with our loyal customers, who are having to endure disruption and inconvenience to their travel and their daily lives, and we dedicate all our efforts and resources to ensuring we do all we can to assist them with their travel planning during this challenging period.
“As the national airline, we stand in full support of the UAE government’s decision, and are confident that we’re well prepared to weather the commercial and operational impact this suspension will have on our services.”
Etihad said guests will be notified if their flight is cancelled. However, prior to proceeding to the airport, all guests should still check the status of their flights, using the Etihad Airways Flight Tracker at: https://www.etihad.com/en-ae/manage/flight-tracker
Gulf countries have imposed various restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the air transport sector.
The UAE has stopped granting visas on arrival and forbidden foreigners who are legal residents but are outside the country from returning.