Update 15/04/20: Emirates has clarified to Al Arabiya English that while tickets are available for sale, plans for flights have yet to be confirmed.
Emirates airlines is operating flights to Dubai from May 1, the first incoming flights available to the general public since UAE authorities suspended air travel in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, an Emirates spokesperson told Al Arabiya English.
All flights out of the UAE were suspended on March 23 as officials moved to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. Emirates and other Gulf airlines have begun to offer some flights out of the UAE for those looking to return home this week, but incoming flights are still unavailable except for government-organized repatriations.
“Currently some of our flights are available for booking from May 1. However, the situation remains dynamic and these flight services could be subject to change. We aim to provide our customers with as much notice as possible should there be any changes,” the spokesperson said.
It is currently unclear when government restrictions on passengers will lift. The UAE has temporarily banned visas on arrival for all nationalities and banned its citizens from traveling outside the country.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, and we hope to resume services as soon as conditions allow. This includes receiving government approvals, the easing of travel restrictions, and commercial demand. We will announce any service resumption when we are in a position to do so,” the spokesperson added.
Earlier on Tuesday, the airline announced new options for travelers who have flight tickets issued before May 31 for travel before August 31, allowing them to either keep, exchange, or request a full refund for the tickets.
Customers who keep the ticket can rebook the flight for within two years from the day the ticket was originally issued.
Travel vouchers are valid for one year from the date the voucher was issued and are valid for any Emirates product or service, which means customers can use them to offset charges for flights to any destination in any cabin class, or other services.
The refund option is available if customers are unable to travel and will be applied without penalties.
“We sincerely hope that our customers will choose to rebook and fly with us again at a later time … We would just like to seek our customers’ understanding that refunds will take time as we have a significant backlog to manage,” Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim said Tuesday.