Heathrow airport London
Back to square one... UK has rolled back the air corridor arrangement with the UAE just when demand was picking up nicely. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: The UK’s decision to remove UAE from its list of travel corridors will drastically impact passenger traffic on the route. This change means anyone who arrives in the UK from UAE now needs to self-isolate for 10 days, as opposed to not having any restrictions at all earlier.

It was only recently that the UAE was assigned an "air corridor" status on flights to the UK, but rampant COVID-19 spread and further lockdowns meant the UK government has gone in for a rethink.

“A mandatory quarantine requirement will definitely reduce demand for tourist and visitor traffic from the UAE to the UK,” said Sanjiv Kapoor, senior advisor at Alton Aviation. “This partly depends on how strictly it is enforced - thus far the UK has been depending on people doing the right thing, as opposed to strictly enforcing quarantine on foreign arrivals.”

“As this order also impacts those transiting through the UAE, it will further impact demand for UAE-UK flights.”

Granting the air corridor status resulted in a marked growth of passenger demand for flights to and from the UK, and was particularly visible all through December.

Fare fall?

A one-way Emirates ticket from Dubai to London will cost passengers at least Dh1,600. Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi to London will set travelers back by at least Dh1,700. Etihad’s flights to the UK are operating as per current schedule, an airline spokesperson told Gulf News. Emirates, which had deployed its A380 on these routes, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fares may drop given that carriers may have to offer attractive discounts to get customers to travel even with the 10-day quarantine.

No surprises there

“The change of status is no surprise given the accelerated infection rates in the UK and the measures being taken,” said John Grant, Partner at Midas Aviation. “Sadly, the UK Government has for nine months failed to require any testing before arrival in the UK and the latest restrictions were always likely to include the UAE, which has a high profile for people, football clubs and others stretching the current restrictions.”