Stock airport passengers
Passengers from the UAE who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine on arrival in Britain. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: UAE’s airlines and hotels can once again bank on a steady flow of tourists after the country was placed on the UK’s ‘amber list’ after months spent in the ‘red’. This means passengers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine on arrival in Britain.

The UAE has one of the best vaccination rollout programmes anywhere, which has ensured its airlines – and fliers – have received instant access to most European destinations. But the UK was the one holdout until now, with the red-listing forcing all fliers from the UAE to go through mandatory quarantine once they arrive in the UK.

Dh1,299 from DXB to LHR; Dh239 from AUH to LHR

Currently, a flight from Dubai to London costs at least Dh1,299, while a next week flight from Abu Dhabi will set passengers back by Dh1,239.

“At last, some positive news, especially for the local expat communities keen to go home and enjoy the English rain,” said John Grant, Partner at Midas Aviation.

India – a major market for both UAE and UK – was also added to the amber list. “For airlines, it is good news,” he added. “But aside from India travel, restrictions to many European countries continue from Southeast Asia and Australasia and those airlines need that connecting traffic to return. In some cases, that connecting traffic is extremely valuable.”

The UAE was placed on UK's red-list in January amid a spike in COVID-19 cases at the time. Since then, the UAE has managed to contain the spread and reconnected with more countries when it comes to travel.

Queries pour in

Emirates airline is being flooded with queries from potential fliers after the UK eased some restrictions on travel from the UAE. The airline said it was reviewing its operations to various points in the UK.

“We’ve seen a huge surge from customers desperate to travel to see their families, planning their kids’ return for the new school term, as well as their postponed business or holiday travel,” said Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer, in a statement to Gulf News. “Emirates welcomes the decision to add the UAE to the UK’s ‘amber list’ for international travel, reflecting the extensive steps that have been taken to mitigate the spread of the virus in the UK and UAE,” said Kazim.

At last, some positive news, especially for the local expat communities keen to go home and enjoy the English rain.

- John Grant, Partner at Midas Aviation

Aiming for ‘green’

“Given the low numbers of coronavirus cases in the UAE, the extensive testing at Dubai International Airport, and the careful health and safety measures in place across the passenger journey, we hope to see the UAE moving to the ‘green’ list soon,” said Kazim. “We have been working closely with partners around the world, including IATA, to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information and will continue to work with the UK government to safely resume travel.”

hEATHROW airport england arrival covid
Two-way 'amber-listed' travel eases up on the need for any quarantining of fully vaccinated fliers.

London-Dubai route

Before being halted by the ban, the London-Dubai route was the busiest air route in the world and several airlines had increased capacity to meet the surging demand.

According to Edward Bell, Senior Director, Market Economics at Emirates NBD Research, “We would expect visitors from the UK to rise in line with seasonal trends in the later part of the year, just as Expo is kicking off, now that they don’t face an extended isolation period on their return.”

Uncertainty remains

Although UAE’s hospitality and transport sectors will benefit from the move, things could change any time. “As we’ve seen with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and governments imposing new levels of restriction on activity, there is always a risk that rules can change quite quickly,” said Bell. “While it’s been a positive week for the services sector in Dubai and the UAE more broadly, we’d be cautious on saying we are completely out of the woods.”

Flights to Glasgow
Emirates airline is restarting flights to Glasgow with four weekly services starting from August 11.

Emirates flight EK 27 will depart Dubai on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 07:50 hours, arriving at Glasgow International Airport at 12:45 hours the same day. The return flight, EK 28, will depart Glasgow at 14:35 hours, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving in Dubai at 01:05 hours the following day (all times are local).

From September, Emirates will increase its flight frequency to a daily service.