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UAE to open flights from the UK to Dubai for stranded citizens and residents


DUBAI, February 1 — United Arab Emirates airline will operate return flights to Dubai for UAE residents who are stranded in the UK.

One-way services from London Heathrow and Manchester will begin on Tuesday. Flights from Glasgow and Birmingham remain suspended.

Direct flights between the two countries were cancelled last week when the UAE was added to the UK’s travel “red list”.

The UK government said it took the action to prevent the spread of a virulent strain of Covid-19 that originated in South Africa.

The move left travellers stranded on both sides of the suspended travel corridor.

“Emirates remains committed to serving customers in the UK and will reinstate outbound passenger operations from 2 February,” said a spokeswoman for the airline.

“Initially, this will include a daily flight from London Heathrow and four weekly from Manchester. Services from Birmingham and Glasgow will continue to be cargo-only.

“We are working closely with all relevant authorities. Passengers travelling from the UK are required to check their eligibility for travel as per the UK government advisory, as well as check the local entry requirements of their destination to ensure they are permitted to travel.”

Travellers in the UAE with British or Irish passports can return to the UK but must isolate for 10 days on arrival.

The British government axed all previous exemptions, which allowed travel from UK to the UAE “for business purposes”.

“British nationals currently in the UAE should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to the UK,” Britain’s Department for Transport said.

“Indirect commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to the UK continue to operate.”

British citizens who are affected include Jodie Frost, 38, a company managing director from the UK, who was in Dubai on business when the announcement was made.

“I heard the news last night and have been trying to figure out my next steps ever since,” she told The National.

“I was due to fly to the UK on Saturday from Dubai. When I tried to bring my flight forward to Friday morning I was quoted nearly £2,000 ($2,735) for a ticket.

“I’m now in limbo and I’m staying in an Airbnb in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and I don’t know how long I need to extend for.”

The UAE said British travellers affected by the decision would have their visit visas extended free of charge.

The UK has also posted a list of countries from which travellers would have to use British quarantine hotels for 10 days.

It includes 30 high-risk countries listed over fears concerning Covid-19 variants are in circulation. These include Portugal and countries in South America and large parts of Africa.

All travellers arriving from the UAE will be taken straight to the quarantine hotels by February 8.

“At the moment, the hotel system has been announced and it is currently being implemented to get it up and running,” said a government source.

“All countries on the ‘red list’ of designated ‘no travel’ will be subject to the hotel quarantine.

“Those who arrive from the UAE who do not have British or Irish passports or cannot prove residency will be sent back.” — The National News


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