Emirates, Etihad to stop flying entirely following UAE ban
Update 3/24/20: The United Arab Emirates has now suspended flights effective immediately, however aircraft currently outside the UAE will be permitted to fly as scheduled.
On Sunday, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Emirates announced the suspension of most flights, trimming its operations to a small number of destinations around the world. Now, even reduced service won't be possible, following a new government ruling to suspend flights entirely.
In one of the most drastic COVID-19 containment measures we've seen to date, the United Arab Emirates has ordered a temporary air service suspension, both for foreign carriers operating service to the UAE, and those based within the country as well, including Emirates, Etihad and Flydubai.
According to a statement from Emirates:
As per the UAE government’s directive, Emirates will temporarily suspend all passenger services for two weeks starting from March 25, 2020. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers and travelers. These measures are in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, and we hope to resume services as soon as feasible.
The temporary flight ban is currently scheduled to last two weeks, but there's always a chance it could be extended, in an effort to contain the outbreak. Note that the UAE is currently enforcing a visitor ban, though it is possible to transit Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Dubai (DXB) until service is discontinued this Wednesday, March 25.
If your travel is impacted, you may not need to contact the airline at this time — and, due to extraordinary wait times, it might not even be possible to get through. Typically, airlines are offering waived rebooking fees and other exceptions — while we've rounded up a number of policies here, the situation is evolving quickly, so be sure to check your airline's website for more information.