Emirates confirmed today that it would be resuming passenger flights to Australia over the coming week. The airline suspended its flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane just under a week ago due to changes in the Australian Government’s entry policy.
Five days ago, we reported that Emirates was temporarily suspending services to three Australian destinations; Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Passenger flights to Perth and cargo operations continued as normal, but a change in Australia’s arrival policy meant Emirates felt it could not justify the flights.
Now, flights are set to resume. Flights to Sydney will resume from January 25th, with flights to Melbourne resuming a day later on the 26th. Passengers will be able to fly from Dubai to Brisbane from January 28th. As part of the announcement, Emirates said,
“The pandemic has made international flying incredibly challenging, and the dynamic restrictions and requirements implemented by the different state authorities in Australia had added complexity and burden to our operations. This led us to temporarily suspend passenger services while we engaged with various stakeholders regarding crew protocols and other operational details.”
The airline also appeared to confirm the reason the flights were suspended in the first place. Speculation at the time the flights were canceled suggested that the new cap on the number of international arrivals in Australia meant passengers were just not allowed to fly to Australia. However, the airline also confirmed additional stresses, which led to the initial suspension.
Changes to procedure
All Emirates cabin crew and pilots can only operate flights to Australia with a negative PCR COVID-19 test 48 hours before flying. However, apparently, this is not enough. After some discussion, all crew will now be tested at home and must isolate at home until the flight. The crew must then isolate and take another test upon arrival in Australia and will only be allowed out of isolation upon arrival back in Dubai.
Of course, this adds stress, costs, and time to every single flight. This suggests that the airline needed to check how much these extra precautions would cost to see if it was worth running flights. Apparently, it isn’t enough to deter Emirates as the airline thanked its crew for supporting the changes that allow the flights to resume.
Demand for flights
Emirates is clearly keen to resume flights, which would suggest demand is high. With almost 40,000 Australian citizens stuck abroad, flights are needed. However, the Australian government is being very cautious about who it lets back in. The government has slashed the number of international arrivals to just 3,000 people per week. Although citizens returning home are not counted in this number, airlines like Emirates are still canceling flights. Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines have also canceled flights to Australia.
The operational difficulties for airlines are clear. With continuing changes to restrictions, it is likely that many stranded Australian’s won’t get home for some time. With so few entry spots available and such tight restrictions on cabin crew and pilots, it’s wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest that more flights will be canceled over the coming weeks.
What do you think of the situation for Australians? Should the government be doing more to help their citizens get home? Let us know what you think in the comments.