Emirates has announced today that it will resume flights in and out of Australia, reversing a decision it made only a week ago.
Emirates made the surprising announcement on last Saturday that it would suspend services “until further notice” all flights to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
But today, Emirates reversed that decision and said passenger flights to Sydney would resume from January 25, with Melbourne flights to follow from January 26 and Brisbane flights from January 28.
Emirates Perth flights had remained in place, with their twice-a-week services unaffected.
The initial suspension of flights from Australia’s east coast only cited “operational reasons”, whilst today’s announcement shed further light on the matter.
“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,” the airline said in a statement.
“This led us to temporarily suspend passenger services while we engaged with various stakeholders regarding crew protocols and other operational details.”
The airline also pointed to the government’s heightened restrictions coming into effect today.
New mask regulations mean travellers on domestic flights and inside airports will need to always wear a mask, while travellers will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test from no more than the 72 hours prior to boarding.
International air crews must undergo a COVID-19 test in Australia every seven days, will have their own specialist quarantine location and are not allowed to move around.
Emirates says the increased testing and quarantine situation will be “an added burden for our crew”.
“All our crew (cabin crew and pilots) operating on Australian flights were already mandated to take a PCR test 48 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure from Dubai. With the latest adjustments, these tests will be administered in their homes, and our crew will also observe self-quarantine in their homes from the moment of testing until their flight.
“Combined with the hotel quarantine and tests on arrival in Australia, this effectively means that our crew are in a ‘bubble’ from 48 hours before their flight, until they return to Dubai. This is an added burden for our crew as individuals, for our rostering, and operating costs, and therefore this decision was made after careful review and consideration.
“We are grateful that our wonderful crew teams are very understanding and supportive, which has enabled us to quickly restart passenger services.”
The news of the services resuming will be a welcome relief for some of the 38,000 Aussies still stranded overseas, hoping to get home shortly as international arrival caps are almost halved.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the changes to arrival numbers following the most recent National Cabinet meeting held on 12 January.
Mr Morrison said there will be reduced caps on international travellers entering Australia. These are as follows:
- NSW – 1505 travellers a week
- Western Australia – 512 travellers a week
- Queensland – 500 travellers a week
- Victoria – no change
- South Australia – no change (currently 490)
These cap numbers are set to be reviewed by February 15.
It is incredibly challenging for any airline to operate with the above restrictions and passengers cap numbers, even more for Emirates which operates a 13hrs no stop flight from Dubai to Australia’s east coast with large aircraft such as the A380 or the B777-300ER. The financial burden that the airlines have to bear is enormous and this sort of reactions are to be expected.