Following the United Arab Emirates government’s ban of all passenger flights to and from the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi-based airline, said it would suspend all flights, including to, from, and via Abu Dhabi, from March 25, 2020, until at least April 8 ‒ but likely more.
On March 23, 2020, Etihad revealed the upcoming flight halt, which is due to come into force on March 25 (23:59 local time). While the suspension initially is expected to last until 14 day, which is until April 8, in reality the flight cancellations might last indefinitely. The decision does not apply to cargo and repatriation flights.
In a statement, Etihad group CEO Tony Douglas called the virus outbreak and following global reaction, which includes multiple governments imposing similar travel bands and borders closures, “unprecedented times”. “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,” Douglas said.
The Gulf carrier’s announcement comes after the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), suspended all inbound, outbound, and transit passenger flights in the country in hopes of limiting the COVID-19 novel coronavirus spread. The decision was announced on March 21, 2020.
Emirates, another major UAE-based carrier, also revealed flight suspensions in response to the government’s decision. On March 22, the carrier announced suspending “most” of its passenger flights, with an exception of the repatriation ones and, of course, cargo operations.