Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: British Embassy in UAE arranges special flight home for vulnerable UK tourists

The 'self-standing' evacuation flight operated by Emirates will depart on April 5

Some UK tourists have been booked on a flight out of Dubai on Sunday. Wam
Some UK tourists have been booked on a flight out of Dubai on Sunday. Wam

A special Emirates flight is scheduled to depart Dubai on Sunday to repatriate vulnerable UK tourists.

On Thursday, the British Embassy told The National the "self-standing flight” was organised with the help of the UAE government.

All passengers that have been identified as a high priority and qualify for the flight, including those with high-risk medical conditions, have been contacted.

The embassy did not say how many passengers were booked to travel but said tickets were chargeable.

It is different from the Foreign Secretary’s Airlines Partnership Announcement but seeking to achieve the same thing – to get stranded Brits home as quickly as possible

British Embassy

“We have prioritised British visitors and other vulnerable Brits who have registered with us," an embassy representative said.

“It is a self-standing flight, not a normal commercial flight.

“It is different from the Foreign Secretary’s Airlines Partnership Announcement but seeking to achieve the same thing – to get stranded Brits home as quickly as possible.”

He said the embassy was working round the clock to speak to UK citizens in the UAE who have registered their details at uaeconsular.escalations@fco.gov.uk.

"We have [reached out] to those that have registered with us and are eligible for the flight,” he said.

“We ask that those who have contacted us check for missed calls and emails now.

“It is urgent that they respond to enable us to get them on the plane.”

Other UK tourists who have registered their details with the embassy will be contacted when additional flights are confirmed.

Staff are working through the list on a "case-by-case basis", with vulnerable citizens a priority.

The embassy previously said it was working to find ways home for British visitors that became stuck in the UAE after the country grounded flights to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We will continue to do this and will not be satisfied until all visitors who want to return to the UK are back home.”

The widespread disruption to the aviation industry since the Covid-19 outbreak left millions of holidaymakers across the world in limbo.

For more than a week, tourists have been taking refuge in airport terminals, hotels and rented accommodation in the hope of returning to their home countries.

On Thursday, an Etihad flight departed from Abu Dhabi International Airport carrying Australians who had been trying to travel back home.

Bookings for the flight were handled by the Australian Consulate General in Dubai and closed at 10pm on April 1.

The flight was one of a few select services operating from the airport since countrywide flight cancellations were announced last week.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Embassy in the UAE said it was working to identify viable options to get its nationals home, particularly “vulnerable Canadians and stranded tourists”.

“While nothing is planned at this time, we are working hard behind the scenes, and we are asking Canadians to be please keep in close contact,” she said.

“As we have new information on any special flights, we will share that quickly with our broader Canadian community.

“We are working to help as many Canadians as possible return home, but some may remain outside of the country for an indeterminate amount of time.”

Canadian citizens that have an urgent need to return to Canada or require consular assistance should contact the embassy in Abu Dhabi at abdbiconsular@international.gc.ca or the Consulate General in Dubai at dubaiconsular@international.gc.ca.

Updated: April 2, 2020 05:32 PM

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