Removal from the UK's quarantine list a 'huge boon' to UAE tourism

Emirates chief welcomes decision of UK government, says airline is ready to add more flights to London to meet demand

The UAE has been removed from the UK’s quarantine list, so travellers will not have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival in Britain from 4am on Saturday.

The announcement on Thursday also saw Bahrain, Turks and Caicos islands, Laos, Iceland, Chile, Cambodia and Qatar added to the government’s travel corridor following a decrease in risk from coronavirus in the listed countries.

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From November 14, passengers arriving into the UK from these destinations will no longer need to self-isolate if they haven’t been in or transited through any other non-exempt countries in the 14 days preceding their arrival.

International travel from England has been banned since November 5 when the country was placed under a national lockdown, although travel for work is allowed.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Dubai-owned Emirates airline, welcomed the news.

We welcome the UK's decision to add the UAE to its list of countries where arriving travellers are exempt from quarantine. This is a positive development for the many people in the UAE who have been yearning to spend time with family and friends in the UK, and vice versa. 1/2— HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (@HHAhmedBinSaeed) November 12, 2020

“We welcome the UK’s decision to add the UAE to its list of countries where arriving travellers are exempt from quarantine. This is a positive development for the many people in the UAE who have been yearning to spend time with family and friends in the UK, and vice versa,” the Emirates CEO tweeted.

“It is also a recognition of the UAE’s effective response in containing the pandemic. We believe this move will benefit businesses and tourism, and Emirates is ready to reinstate more flight services between Dubai and the UK to serve customer demand,” he wrote.

Paula Jacobson (pictured below), a Dubai-based expat who has campaigned to have the UAE included on a list of UK travel corridors, told Arabian Business: “I am beyond thrilled about the news and have been receiving lots of messages from people ready to book tickets. Emirates, be ready to sell out!

“Ever since the pandemic hit, the UAE has been exemplary in protecting its residents; with the initial lockdown, protocol in social distancing, PPE, closure of bars and clubs, and the strict travel guidelines. The UAE also is one of the highest ranking countries on the global Covid-testing scale.”

Back in business?

Emirates resumed London Heathrow–Dubai passenger flights on board its Airbus A380 aircraft on July 15 this year, marking the first double-decker flight to the UK capital since the pandemic forced the temporary grounding of the airline’s passenger fleet in March.

Emirates is currently operating 43 flights per week from the UK to Dubai – four daily from London Heathrow, one daily from Manchester, four weekly from Glasgow and four weekly from Birmingham.

The UK is an important source market for Dubai historically, ranking as the third biggest source market to Dubai in 2019, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

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As countries around the world grapple with reopening their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, the emirate of Dubai is back open for tourism, a sector vital to its economy.

However, throughout 2020 the global travel market has been battered by ongoing global coronavirus restrictions and localised travel bans.

Passenger airline bookings to Dubai from London in Q4 2020 were 74.1 per cent behind year-on-year, travel analytics firm ForwardKeys revealed to Arabian Business in September.

London’s Heathrow airport alone has seen passenger numbers drop dramatically during the last year, with October’s traffic reportedly down 82 per cent year-on-year.

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Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at UK-based StrategicAero Research, said the newly announced air corridor with the UAE would allow airlines like British Airways, Emirates and Etihad to bolster services over the festive and New Year period to tap into demand that has been highly limited and restricted for most of 2020.

“This is a huge boon for both the UAE which relies on large swathes of tourists, many of whom come from the UK and of course, this will provide an economic and financial boost to coffers for airlines that have been financially battered during this year as demand has plummeted to almost nothing,” he said.

Ahmad said limited Covid restrictions and a greater degree of normalcy in the UAE could result in UK sun-seekers being keen to make a getaway after a tumultuous year in the UK.

“Given the financial pressures of Covid driving up unemployment around the world, and limited incomes – holiday makers are more likely to be the ones who will make use of this new air corridor and lap up competitive fares and hotel rates whereas business travellers will be few and far between as the current emphasis of working from home and using technologies for live conferencing, dispenses the need for overseas travel,” he said.

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