Britain has announced a ban on direct passenger flights from the UAE 29 January onwards.
The airline route from Dubai to London, which is the world’s busiest international airline route, will be closed due to concerns over the spread of a more infectious and potentially vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variant first detected in South Africa.
Along with the UAE, Britain has also added Burundi and Rwanda to its coronavirus travel ban list, reported Reuters.
UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps on social media said: “This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third-country nationals with residence rights, who must self-isolate for ten days at home.”
After this announcement, the big Gulf carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates will halt their UK flights temporarily.
With the ban taking effect from 1300GMT, Emirates airlines stated that it would suspend all UK passenger flights from then onwards while Etihad Airways said it would only suspend flights going to Britain, with those arriving from the UK remaining unaffected.
In a statement, Dubai Airport advised those booked on flights due to reach Britain after the ban to contact their airline instead of going to the airport.
Nationals presently in the UAE have been advised by Britain’s transport department to use indirect commercial flight routes to return to Britain.
As per the airline data provider OAG, border closures due to Covid-19 made the Dubai to London route the world’s busiest international route in January, registering 190,365 scheduled seats over the month.
These flight cancellations will also affect passengers in Australia as Emirates and Etihad normally carry many passengers from Britain to destinations like Australia through their airport hubs.
The Australian Government said it will increase charter flights from Britain if needed.
Eran Ben-Avraham, an Australian stranded in Britain due to the flight restrictions, said his options for getting home were gradually diminishing.
He was quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as saying: “At the moment it is only giving us three options of flying Qatar, ANA or Singapore Airlines. Every day it is making it more difficult to get home. The flights back are anywhere from like 4,000 pounds ($5,487).”
After these bans, the number of countries on the UK’s red list has reached 33, with most being located in Africa and South America.