Emirates has suspended all flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane until further notice, leaving the travel plans of thousands of Australians stranded overseas up in the air.
The major airline announced the suspension on Friday night was “due to operational reasons”.
An estimated 37,000 Australians are still overseas and seeking assistance to get back into the country.
It’s understood the airline will continue operating twice weekly flights to and from Perth.
The Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom, where Emirates flights to Australia depart with stopovers in Dubai, said on Twitter: “We appreciate the disruption this will cause.”
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Emirates was one of the last international airlines flying Down Under after Qantas last year cancelled all international flights until March 2021.
On January 8, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced national cabinet had agreed to slash the number of international arrivals into New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia by half, starting “no later” than Friday, January 15 and lasting until February 15.
He said this was “to manage the flow of returning Australians and other travellers who have been potentially exposed to the new variants” of COVID-19, including the highly contagious strain behind Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor cluster.
“Current international passenger caps in Victoria and South Australia and arrangements in the Northern Territory are considered manageable and will remain in place,” Mr Morrison said.
The new caps will be around 1500 weekly for NSW, and 500 for Queensland and WA.
Chartered flights for vulnerable Australians will continue.
From January 22, the Government will require travellers to Australia to return a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure.
EMIRATES’ LAST FLIGHTS TO THREE AUSSIE CITIES
* Dubai to Brisbane EK430 on January 16
* Brisbane to Dubai EK431 on January 17
* Dubai to Sydney EK414 on January 18
* Sydney to Dubai EK415 on January 19
* Dubai to Melbourne EK408 on January 19
* Melbourne to Dubai EK409 on January 20
“Customers holding tickets with final destinations Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin after the completion of the above flights,” Emirates said in a statement.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options.”