The UAE based airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia have halted flights to Saudi Arabia after Saudi Arabia announced to seal its borders to all commercial flights on late Sunday (Dec. 20) to prevent probable infection of the new mutant of Covid-19 strain.
The new variant of the virus has been speculated to be much more infectious than the former variant. While some vaccines against Covid-19 have been approved around the world, how effective they are going to be against the new coronavirus variant is still unknown.
Dubai-based Emirates published a notice on its official website regarding the flight suspensions. The notice said: “Emirates will be suspending flights to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 21-27 December. We regret any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options.”
Considering the recent travel regulations brought up by Saudi Arabia to control the spread of the coronavirus, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, too, has ceased its flights to Saudi Arabia temporarily. A spokesperson from Etihad said that the flight suspension will take effect immediately until any further notice is issued.
The spokesperson further added, “The safety of its customer and crew is Etihad’s highest priority and we regret any inconvenience the suspension may cause.”
Similarly, Sharjah-based Air Arabia, too, has put its flights to Saudi Arabia on hold until further notice.
Along with Saudi Arabia, the other two GCC countries – Kuwait and Oman also have ceased international flights and closed borders for at least a week. Meanwhile, the UAE has not revealed any official statement regarding the travel restriction or border closure. Moreover, Emirates and Etihad are continuing their flights to the UK where the new coronavirus variant was first originated in September.