Dubai Airports CEO hopeful yet unsure about UAE removal from UK ‘red list’

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Chief of Dubai Airports expressed that he was hopeful for but unsure about a potential travel corridor between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the outcome of which is yet to be announced on June 7.

The UAE is still on the UK’s “red-list” of banned countries for international travel.

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In an interview with CNN, Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths said, “The problem of course is that in the UK the situation is not looking great. They were doing so well in containing the spread of COVID but of course, recently that situation seems to be rather more challenging.”

He also said he is not sure that the UK is “going to change the status of the UAE. We are anticipating something happening at some stage in the future.”

Griffiths added that the step recently taken by the UAE and Italy to open up a travel corridor was “a very positive step” and hopes for the rest of the EU and the United States to soon follow suit, explaining that if this were to happen, it would give the UK government some “courage and conviction” to allow flights to restart between the two countries.

The UK has long-been one of the UAE’s biggest travel markets since London was one of the most popular destinations between the two nations.

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“We are all very keen to get those discussions underway,” said Griffiths. “We're hopeful that as soon as some of these major markets open up again, rather than being a trickle of a recovery, there will be a flood of demand because 4 billion people having been under lockdown over the last year are desperate to travel and the social and economic suffering that we've had as a result of reduced mobility, I think everyone's felt the effect of.”

The UAE’s vaccination drive has been gaining speed and has been deemed one of the world’s most efficient, with over 81 percent of the eligible population over 16 and more than 92 percent of its elderly population already vaccinated.

On the topic of vaccine passports replacing the need for testing, Griffiths said, “The encouraging news from the UAE is they are moving on a UAE wide vaccine passport system, which I think is probably the long-term solution to travel corridors opening up again. And those digital systems should enable people to travel without having any problems at the airport because of course, testing works but it does require quite a lot of capacity for testing at the arrival airport. The vaccine passport system doesn't require a physical check. So, it's a more efficient way of traveling.”

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