Dubai: UAE airlines have released statements regarding the temporary suspension of flights between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A statement from Etihad said, “Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has suspended temporarily all flights between Abu Dhabi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in response to a directive from the General Authority for Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia, to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“The airline operates up to 12 flights per day between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. It has cancelled a total of seven flights today between Abu Dhabi and the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Medina, and is now advising passengers who were booked to travel today.”
The statement added: “Another four flights which were en-route to Saudi Arabia at the time of the directive were permitted to land.
"When flights arrived in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, nationals of Saudi Arabi were permitted to disembark but all other passengers remained on the aircraft, which will return to Abu Dhabi. The fourth flight operated to Medina to repatriate Umrah passengers.
“In addition to the flight suspensions to and from the UAE, Saudi Arabia has also banned Saudi nationals and Saudi residents from travelling to countries including the UAE and on passengers travelling from or transiting through Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Egypt and Korea.
“Etihad Airways is working closely with regulatory authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and is continuing to monitor this situation closely.
“For passengers impacted by the flight cancellations, procedures are in place for fare refunds or for flight changes when services resume. Etihad will continue to provide updates on this situation as information becomes available.”
A statement from Emirates read: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have issued a directive, which takes immediate effect, suspending operations from several countries including the UAE to all airports in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
"This includes all flights to Damman, Jeddah, Medina and Riyadh on 9, 10, and 11 March. As previously updated, operations to Medina have been cancelled up to and including EK809/810 12th March 2020.
“Affected customers due to the cancellations for tickets issued on/before 09th March can opt to; rebook to alternate date of travel till 30th June, travel voucher for ticketed value, or get a refund.
“Customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates office for further support with their rebookings. Customers across the Emirates network holding tickets for final destination Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not be accepted for boarding at their point of origin until further notice.”
Fly Dubai said, “Following a directive from the Authorities in Saudi Arabia flydubai flights to and from Saudi Arabia have been cancelled until 12 March.
“Passengers who have booked to travel to Saudi Arabia and would like to talk to us about their journey, can telephone our Call Centre on (+971) 600 54 44 45, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a private message on Facebook.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our passengers’ travel plans.”
Air Arabia modifies fee waiver
Air Arabia released the following statement on fee waivers for disrupted routes when asked to comment on the Saudi situation.
"Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC), is providing its customers with more flexibility by introducing a new modification fee waiver policy in light of current travel restrictions and to allow customers the choice of changing travel dates.
"The new waiver policy offers passengers the flexibility to modify their travel bookings without charge and reissuance fees, further underlining Air Arabia’s commitment to provide flexibility and prioritise the convenience of its customers.
"Air Arabia customers can change their existing and new bookings made until 31 March 2020 for travel until 31 December 2020 with confidence up to 72 hours prior to departure. This applies to all flights across Air Arabia network from its four hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.
"Customers will only need to pay fare difference if there is any at the time of rebooking their flights. Air Arabia’s dedicated call centres and sales offices available throughout their entire network will assist customers with their bookings and enquiries."