Concern has spread among Australians wanting to repatriate, after Emirates abruptly suspended flights to and from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane for the foreseeable future.
The announcement was made on Friday evening, with the airline advising affected customers to “contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options.”
It is estimated that hundreds of Australian nationals have been left stuck overseas following the development, amongst them many Greeks and Greek Cypriots, Neos Kosmos understands.
Emirates operated its last flight into Brisbane from Dubai, yesterday, Saturday.
The carrier’s last remaining flights into Melbourne and Sydney are scheduled for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Dubai – Perth itinerary will be the only Emirates flight into the country continuing.
“Emirates remains committed to Australia and continues to operate twice weekly flights to/from Perth,” the airline said in a statement.
“Operational reasons” were cited for the sudden flights suspensions that come shortly after concerns over the UK’s highly transmissible mutant strain of COVID-19 prompted the halving of international arrivals in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, last week.
Flight caps were slashed by 50% until 15 February.
The Emirates’ move is feared that could be replicated by more airlines, at a time when around 37,000 Australians overseas are trying to return home.
On Saturday, 16 January, the Federal government announced the roll-out of an additional 20 commercial flights from locations around the world for returning Australians.
The government-facilitated flights, prioritising regions including the UK and India,”where vulnerable Australians are most in need of assistance” will run from 31 January to 31 March.
In a joint media release issued by the Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marisa Payne, it is clarified:
“Australians returning on these additional Government-facilitated flights will quarantine at Howard Springs and in States and Territories willing to work above the current caps, on a case by case basis.”