Four Etihad flights which were en-route to Saudi Arabia at the time a directive issued by the General Authority for Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia took effect were permitted to land. But some passengers had to stay on the plane and be returned due to COVID-19.
Etihad Airways has temporarily suspended all flights between Abu Dhabi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in response to a directive from the General Authority for Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The airline operates up to 12 flights per day between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. It has cancelled a total of seven flights today between Abu Dhabi and the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Medina, and is now advising passengers who were booked to travel today.
When flights arrived in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, nationals of Saudi Arabi were permitted to disembark but all other passengers remained on the aircraft, which will return to Abu Dhabi. The fourth flight operated to Medina to repatriate Umrah passengers. In addition to the flight suspensions to and from the UAE, Saudi Arabia has also banned Saudi nationals and Saudi residents from travelling to countries including the UAE and on passengers travelling from or transiting through Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Egypt and Korea.
Etihad Airways is working closely with regulatory authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and is continuing to monitor this situation closely. For passengers impacted by the flight cancellations, procedures are in place for fare refunds or for flight changes when services resume.
The World Health Organization (WHO) today labeled COVID-19 as a pandemic, expressing alarm both about mounting infections and slow government responses. The WHO said it is not too late for countries to act immediately against this dangerous form of coronavirus.