Etihad Airways, which was forced to halt passenger flights amid the coronavirus crisis, is now preparing to gradually reinstate scheduled service starting from April 5, 2020. However, only one direction is currently planned ‒ and awaiting permission ‒ with several others to follow later on.

After the United Arab Emirates government banned all passenger flights to and from the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Etihad Airways suspended most of its passengers-carrying flights from March 25, 2020. The halt was initially expected to last at least until April 8th, but likely more. 

Now, the Gulf carrier is eyeing an earlier date, namely April 5th, to start rebuilding its regular scheduled passenger flights and resuming flights  to Seoul Incheon (South Korea). Later on, as outlined in the airline’s statement issued on March 2, 2020. 

Besides South Korean, it also wants to add regular flights to Melbourne, Singapore, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Amsterdam. If it obtains government approvals, that is. 

Across Etihad’s vast network of flights from Abu Dhabi, there were some movements on only 12 routes within the last seven days, many on a one-off basis, flightradar24.com data indicates. 

The airline operated a number of repatriation flights, including those from the United States, Australia, and Sri Lanka. Besides repatriating UAE citizens, the carrier also used the opportunity to carry cargo back to Abu Dhabi using the belly-hold of their aircraft. Now, it plans to expand the repatriation flight and operate some on behalf of foreign governments.

Etihad’s announcement came on the same day when Emirates, a rivaling UAE airline, also announced seeing the light at the end of the flights halt tunnel. The airline was granted the UAE authorities’ permission to start reinstating some flights, mostly out of the country, starting from April 6, Emirates Airline and Group chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum wrote on social media on April 2, 2020. The flight resumption would be gradual and reinstating the airline's full capacity would still have to wait, Al Maktoum wrote.