UAE airlines ready to take their chances as Europe opens up with ‘travel corridors’

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All set to hit full speed… Emirates will raise frequency to Italy from July, and more European destinations are opening up. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: The breakthroughs for the UAE’s airline and tourism sectors are starting to happen as more ‘travel corridors’ open up with countries in Europe and Asia.

The UAE announced quarantine-free travel to Italy, the latest in a series of agreements signed by the country, including those with Greece, Serbia, Seychelles and Bahrain.

“This is an important step towards recovery from the pandemic and will give travellers to Europe the opportunity to plan long-anticipated trips to one of the world’s most popular destinations,” said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, in a statement on Monday.

“It demonstrates the confidence that both countries have in their approach to overcoming the effects of the pandemic and is one of the most significant bilateral travel corridors which are vital to reboot travel. We hope that other countries will follow Italy’s example in leading the global recovery.”

Dubai Airports said it supported the decision of the Italian government to waive the 10-day quarantine requirement for all categories of traveller from the UAE, in favour of test-based travel protocols, with effect from June 2.

This means all passengers arriving on flights from the UAE to the Italian airports of Rome, Milan and Venice will be able to travel to Italy for any purpose. A negative COVID-19 test result will be required 48 hours before departure from the UAE. On arrival in Italy, all passengers over the age of two years will be required to take a rapid antigen test.

Emirates makes a move

Emirates said it will resume flights between Dubai and Venice from July 1, starting with three a week on the route. The airline will also increase services to Milan from eight to 10 weekly flights in July.

“We welcome the arrangements and would like to thank the Italian and UAE authorities for their ongoing efforts to ease and facilitate international travel,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive. “The UAE has a strong and long standing relationship with Italy and the safe return of air connectivity will help boost mutual trade and tourism.”

No corridor between UAE-Germany

There’s no reason to set up an air travel corridor between UAE and Germany, according to Florian Poetsch, Head of International Marketing, Munich Airport. The European Union (EU) has eased COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-EU visitors ahead of the summer season.

German tourists come in second place among European visitors to Dubai after British arrivals. Meanwhile, the Gulf is one of the top three overseas source markets for Germany. In 2019, the country hosted more than 1.6 million overnights from the region, and despite the challenges of the pandemic, this was at 300,000 in 2020.

“To my understanding, travel corridors or travel bubbles are set up to restart flight connections between two countries, with extremely tight COVID-19 regulations,” said Poetsch. “However, between UAE and Germany there are already various flight connections with an increasing number of passengers making use of it, from Germany to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and beyond.

“Hopefully, with the easing of travel regulations for non-EU visitors to Germany in the very near future, the flights between UAE and Germany will be filled from both sides.”

Long-haul will be back

During the pandemic, UAE nationals stopped venturing out of the broader region for leisure travel purposes. However, Germany could eventually be back on the radar for the country’s travelers.

“While regional travel has grown in popularity during the pandemic, recent statistics from the GCC show an increased appetite for travel, fuelled by the region’s successful vaccination programmes,” said Yamina Sofo, Director of Sales and Marketing, German National Tourist Office (GNTO), the regional office of GNTB.

“Although we are still waiting for more detail on the status of Germany’s international travel, we anticipate a strong demand from GCC travellers this summer.”