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U.K. Government Bans All Passenger Flights To and From the UAE

Emirates aircraft in Dubai (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hisham Qadri)

The U.K. government has implemented a ban on travelers from over 30 countries arriving in the U.K. with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being one of the latest additions to the ‘red list’. Flights from Dubai have been amongst the most frequent to arrive in the U.K. during the coronavirus pandemic but these ceased at 1300 GMT on Friday 29 January. This followed an announcement earlier in the week that U.K. citizens and residents arriving as passengers on flights from countries designated as ‘CoVid hotspots’ would be required to enter managed quarantine facilities at their own cost. Prior to this week’s announcement air passengers arriving from countries, not on the U.K.’s ‘red list’ of banned countries were required to self-isolate for 10 days.

In announcing the additions to the list of countries on the U.K. travel ban list Transport Minister Grant Shapps tweeted, “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.” The Independent reported that most of the countries on the ‘red list’ are in South America or southern Africa due to the discovery of variant strains of CoVid-19 in Brazil and South Africa. A U.K. variant has also resulted in a number of countries banning travel to and from the U.K.

With the Dubai to London route currently the busiest international route in the world, a late notice of the ban has created chaos for thousands of travelers who use the UAE hub as a transit point for journeys to the U.K. Both Emirates and Etihad Airways advised passengers with flights departing after the ban was due to take effect to not travel to airports. Unfortunately, a number of passengers who were traveling from elsewhere on the airline networks and transiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports find themselves seeking alternative travel to the U.K. An Emirates release states: “We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call center for rebooking.”

Britons in the UAE had come into focus this week with a number of U.K. social media influencers coming into the spotlight for suggesting their presence in the emirates was essential travel related to work. Currently, all U.K. residents are subject to a third national lockdown across all four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  All non-essential travel is banned and measures are being introduced that would make airlines responsible for checking the reasons for passenger travel and police used to enforce those deemed to be traveling against the ban.

Options for travelers seeking to return to the U.K. has been significantly reduced with restrictions and reduced services between a number of European countries and the U.K. The situation also has a major impact on ex-pat Australian and New Zealand citizens seeking to return to their respective countries from the U.K. Limits on returning citizens and residents of these countries due to the strictly managed isolation and quarantine enforcement which has already resulted in a backlog of Aussies and Kiwis seeking to return home.

The cancellation of further flights from the U.K. will further compound the distress and frustration being felt by those caught up in the continuing pandemic crisis.

John Flett


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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