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Lifting of restrictions a boost to UAE-UK airlines

Lifting of restrictions a boost to UAE-UK airlines

The switching of the UAE from the so-called ‘red’ to the amber list could see air traffic with the UK jump to 60% of pre-pandemic levels, providing a timely boost to the economy.

According to aviation analysts, flight bookings between the UK and the UAE were just 8% of pre-pandemic levels during the first half of 2021.

Experts are predicting a surge in travel demand between the two, with both Emirates and Etihad announcing plans in August to increase their respective capacities.

Emirates said it would be operating 73 weekly flights into the UK by October, including a six-times-a-day Heathrow service; twice-a-day flights to Manchester, 10 weekly services to Birmingham and daily flights to Glasgow.


Six daily flights

Emirates said it will have re-introduced its operations to six daily flights by mid-October. The Dubai-owned carrier has now resumed passenger services to more than 120 destinations, recovering close to 90% of its pre-pandemic network.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways also resumed passenger flights to London and Manchester on August 8, following the addition of the UAE to the UK’s amber air travel list.

The airline said its three daily flights to London’s Heathrow have been scheduled to provide travellers with a choice of departures and arrivals and all 28 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and the UK will be operated using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.


Constantly changing backdrop

A spokesperson for UK-based aviation consulting firm StratAero Research told the Arabian Business news website: “It’s clear the local carriers want to monetise what demand is out there because there’s absolutely no certainty that things will last, given the constantly changing pandemic backdrop.”

But John Grant, a partner at aviation analyst Midas Aviation, is urging UAE airlines to remain cautious given the unpredictable nature of the Covid-19 virus. He said: “The UK government has already shown that it is capable of putting back restrictions at a moment’s notice. What’s more, with the Northern Hemisphere winter looming the travel industry can’t be complacent.”


Closed for travel

Some Asian countries will remain effectively closed for international travel from the UK until at least 2022. This could create a sizeable barrier to recovery for airlines and all companies involved in the travel and tourism industries, Grant said.

He added: “For carriers such as Emirates and Etihad, a large proportion of their traffic is connecting onwards to other markets in South East Asia and Australasia… with that traffic not flowing, the airline industry will not be able to get back to its pre-Covid19 levels.”