Thousands of British visitors stranded in Dubai and other Emirates of the UAE due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic lockdown are being gradually repatriated to the UK, thanks to the coordination between the governments of the two countries.
The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) and the British Embassy in the UAE arranged for chartered flights, including a FlyDubai service, on March 28 to fly out the first batch of British tourists who were unable to return home after the closure of the UAE airspace on March 26.
345 Britons repatriated to the UK from UAE
More recently, on Sunday April 5, around 345 British visitors were flown out of the UAE on a special chartered plane arranged with Emirates Airlines.
Patrick Moody, the British ambassador to the UAE, posted a video on his official Twitter handle showing him at the Dubai airport to see off the last of over 300 British travelers home. He also thanked the Emirates Airlines, and Emirati authorities for their help in making the flight possible.
"I am delighted that 345 British visitors to the UAE have now arrived home in the UK. I am equally delighted that Emiratis have returned to the UAE from the UK this week as well. This has happened because of the hard work of my team and the team at the UAE Embassy in London, and the fantastic cooperation of the UAE government," Moody said.
UAE's air travel suspension
The UAE suspended all passenger flights and closed down its airspace on March 25, and the country's biggest airline Emirates also suspended its flights to and from the country, with the exception of cargo carriers. Later, the airlines announced that it will continue to operate limited chartered flights to repatriate expats and tourists on an emergency basis.
"The ministry continues to organise clearances for flights to repatriate foreign nationals. At all times we have sought to minimise disruption to travellers' lives, while limiting the spread of the COVID-19 in the UAE," said Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al Maktoum, Director of the Dubai office of the MOFAIC. Al Makoum is also the lead organizer of the ministry's efforts to enable foreign nationals to return home after the UAE imposed the international air travel ban.
On April 2, the UAE authorities granted permission to Emirates Airlines to resume a limited number of international flights from April 6 to April 20. The UAE's second-largest airline, Etihad also announced that it will be resuming some flights from April 5.
The first flights will be carrying people who wish to return to their country of residence and the UAE has requested expats and tourists wishing to return to their countries to get in touch with their respective embassies regarding the repatriation process.
As for Britons in the UAE, as of April 6 there will be one-way Emirates flights to London's Heathrow airport.