The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) announced yesterday that it will temporarily suspend flights of Pakistan in light of her worsening COVID-19 situation. This suspension, effective Monday, will last until a laboratory is set up for COVID-19 testing.
A precautionary measure
The move is being taken to ensure the health and safety of arrivals from Pakistan, with GCCA saying passengers on all flights, including transfers, will not be allowed to United Arab Emirates airports.
SMAC is urging all passengers affected by this decision to contact their airlines or travel agents to make other plans.
According to Gulf News, the suspension will remain in effect until a laboratory is set up for appropriate testing.
The COVID-19 situation in Pakistan
According to Worldometer, Pakistan recently passed the 200,000 case milestone and has accumulated more than 4,100 deaths at the time of writing. Over the past two weeks it seems that Pakistan has seen an increase in active cases, although this appears to have stabilized fairly recently with new daily cases declining as well.
The United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, appears to have ‘flattened the curve’, with active cases and new daily cases falling. In fact, Dubai is expected to reopen its borders to international visitors. from July 7. However, it depends on meeting the strict entry requirements. This includes:
- Download of the COVID-19 DXB application that allows you to communicate with health authorities if travelers have symptoms of COVID-19,
- Fill out a “health declaration form” before boarding,
- Have valid health insurance,
- And carry out a PCR test with a maximum validity of four days (96 hours) before the departure date.
In addition, all arrivals will be subject to thermal screening.
Flights not (yet) canceled
Interesting way, FlightRadar24 shows that many flights to the UAE from cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad have yet to be canceled. Using Lahore as an example, we can see that flights from flyDubai, Emirates, AirBlue and Air Arabia are still listed as “scheduled” for Monday and Tuesday. A few Air Arabia flights are listed as canceled, but the airline has a few more scheduled as well.
Oddly enough, the only airline that appears to have canceled almost all of its flights to and from Pakistan is Doha-based Qatar Airways, which obviously has no operations to the United Arab Emirates.
Perhaps this is because many airlines continue to fly for the primary purpose of cargo operations. However, this has not been confirmed.