A Boeing 777 of the Emirates airline at Sydney International Airport on May 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Emirates airline is preparing for a summer travel surge over the next two weekends, despite growing concerns about the variant delta coronavirus, which is responsible for more than a third of infections in the United Arab Emirates.
Emirates expects more than 450,000 passengers on over 1,600 flights to, from and through Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport (DXB) in the coming days.
“The busiest days for the airline will be the next two weekends, July 2-3 and July 9-10, although high passenger traffic is expected today and will last until July 12,” Emirates said in a statement on Wednesday.
Almost 100,000 passengers will arrive in Dubai on Emirates flights over the same period to begin their summer vacation, the airline added. The seasonal surge in travel comes when temperatures heat up in the United Arab Emirates, where mercury can soar to 40 degrees Celsius and more in July.
Emirates, one of two national airlines in the United Arab Emirates, plans to increase its flight capacity to 90% of pre-pandemic levels by July. Dubai Airports also reopened Terminal 1 and Hall D on June 24th after being closed for 15 months due to the pandemic.
“All Emirates and DXB touchpoints are well prepared to cope with the increase in passenger numbers, with measures and protocols that increase the security of customers’ passage through Terminal 3,” said Emirates.
The more than half a million people who are expected to cross the UAE in the coming days correspond to almost the entire passenger volume of London’s Heathrow Airport in May of this year, according to Heathrow Airport.
A Boeing 787-9 “Dreamliner” operated by Etihad Airways displays Israeli and Emirati flags after arriving from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on the company’s first scheduled commercial flight from Abu Dhabi landed in April 02/06/2021.
JACK GUEZ | AFP | Getty Images
Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi also extended their “Verified to Fly” program on Wednesday. The program enables travelers to validate Covid-19 travel documents prior to arriving at the airport to improve passenger turnaround time.
“We know these are challenging times for travelers and this has been an important initiative to make our guests’ journeys as easy as possible,” said John Wright, Etihad vice president for global airports and networking, in a statement.
The expected increase in summer travel comes despite new warnings about the Delta variant of the virus, which has been shown to be more transmissible, causing more hospital stays and reducing vaccine effectiveness. The Delta variant, identified for the first time in India, accounts for 33.9% of cases in the UAE, according to the UAE Ministry of Health.
The British variant accounts for 11.3% of the cases, while the South African variant still has the highest infection rate at 39.2%. The United Arab Emirates reported 1,747 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued a renewed level 4 “do not travel” warning for the UAE, the highest possible category, citing concerns about the virus. The United Arab Emirates are also still on the United Kingdom’s “red list”, where they have been since the end of January.
Britons living in the United Arab Emirates have expressed confusion and anger over the decision, particularly the Red List quarantine requirements.
Forty percent of the UAE’s roughly 10 million residents are now fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University. The high local vaccination rate, new flight routes and the easing of restrictions on vacation hotspots have given locals and residents the confidence and desire to travel again despite warnings about dangerous coronavirus variants.
Emirates has vowed to adhere to strict security measures for travelers. The airline was one of the first in the world to introduce the IATA Travel Pass, which will be extended to all routes in its network in the coming weeks. Emirates has also partnered with Al Hosn, the UAE covid tracing app, to support safe passenger movement.
“Emirates customers can travel knowing that the airline and its partners have spared no effort to make their airport trip as safe and smooth as possible,” said the airline.