Etihad Airways (Etihad) will temporarily suspend all flights to, from, and via Abu Dhabi following a decision by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), to suspend all inbound, outbound, and transit passenger flights in the UAE. This decision has been made to limit the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus and to protect citizens, residents, and international travellers.
The suspension of flights to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport will commence at 23:59 (UAE local time) on Thursday 26 March, and will last for an initial 14 days, subject to further directives by the relevant authorities. Cargo and emergency evacuation flights are exempt and will continue.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “These are unprecedented times and unprecedented decisions are being made by governments, authorities and companies, including Etihad, to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to help minimise its effects around the world.
“We stand with our loyal customers, who are having to endure disruption and inconvenience to their travel and their daily lives, and we dedicate all our efforts and resources to ensuring we do all we can to assist them with their travel planning during this challenging period.
“As the national airline, we stand in full support of the UAE government’s decision, and are confident that we’re well prepared to weather the commercial and operational impact this suspension will have on our services.”
Guests will be notified if their flight is cancelled. However, prior to proceeding to the airport, all guests should still check the status of their flights, using the Etihad Airways Flight Tracker at :https://www.etihad.com/en-ae/manage/flight-tracker
Etihad Airways continues to follow UAE and international government and regulatory authority directives and is applying a contingency plan to assist affected customers.
The airline will announce the resumption of services through its usual channels once restrictions are lifted.
Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst-StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo: “On the back of Emirates announcing a near total shutdown of passenger flights, now Etihad has followed suit in the wake of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on passenger demand.
“Etihad has been working hard the last couple of years to turn around losses and get back into the black. Clearly, this virus pandemic will obliterate whatever good ground the airline had made in an attempt to become profitable – but then, these are unchartered waters that the likes of the entire aviation industry has ever seen, so its not a surprise to see the two biggest UAE airlines respond in the way that they have.
“There is literally no other option for them. Routes are only serviceable with demand and yield. If they don’t exist, then flights are not going to happen. Even the inducements some airlines made at the start of the year to stimulate demand have fallen by the wayside as countries across the globe impose strict travel conditions, further battering demand.
“Etihad, like other airlines, will naturally be averse to wanting to operate the costly likes of the Airbus A380 which require a significantly higher yield and seat factor to fill. This is why any future resumption of flights will make better use of its fuel efficient 787-9 and 787-10 fleets.
“Like Emirates, Etihad is keen to avoid laying off staff and the good news is that the UAE Government will support the airline during this time – governments around the world are all doing the same for operators in their home countries. Needless to say, Etihad’s path to profitability looks like it will take a lot longer to reach.”
For passengers impacted by flight cancellations, procedures are in place to assist customers with their requirements until normal services resume. Customers should visit the dedicated easy-to-use web page relating to these matters at www.etihad.com/travelalerts.
Etihad Airways is urging guests whose flights are impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions to refrain from calling the airline’s customer service lines unless their flights are scheduled in the period immediately before the suspension at 23.59 (UAE local time), Thursday 26 March. Contact Centres are currently experiencing significant congestion and long waits. The immediate priority is to assist those guests with imminent travel.
Alternatively, guests who issued tickets through travel agents should contact them directly for any changes or cancellations