New covid strain: Etihad suspends flights to…

Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 22 December 2020: With immediate effect, Etihad Airways will temporarily suspend its passenger services between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Muscat (MCT) in Oman and Kuwait (KWI) until further notice, based on the directives of the respective authorities to limit the spread of Covid-19.

A company spokesperson said: “The safety of our customers and crew is Etihad’s highest priority and we regret any inconvenience the suspension may cause. We will work closely with impacted guests to notify them of the suspension and help them rearrange their travel plans.”

New PCR test requirements

Following an announcement by the National Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, effective 24 December 2020, Etihad requires all guests flying from the United Kingdom to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours validity of their flight departure time.

Etihad said it is the only airline in the world requiring 100% of its passengers to show a negative PCR test before travelling and again on arrival into Abu Dhabi, ensuring peace of mind for all on board.

PCR tests must be conducted at a government accredited medical facility. Suggested facilities can be found at

As many Covid-19 PCR test certificates do not currently show the date and time the test was taken, guests are required to show evidence of this at check-in, for example by presenting their appointment confirmation. Children under 12 and people with severe and moderate disabilities are exempt from Covid-19 PCR testing.

As part of the Etihad Wellness programme, global Covid-19 insurance cover is included for all passengers travelling with Etihad.

Saudi Arabia suspends all international flights

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has suspended all international flights amid fears of a new strain of Covid-19 which have been detected in number of countries, mainly in Europe.

The country’s Ministry of Interior said that the temporary measure will last “until medical information about the nature of this virus becomes clear,” and that the urgent measures are taken “to protect the public health of citizens and expatriates and ensure their safety,” reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Under the new measures, all international flights will be suspended for travelers for one week, which can be extended for another week. However, travel will still be allowed in “exceptional cases” and foreign flights that are currently inside the Kingdom will be allowed to leave. The suspension also applies to land and sea ports.

The ministry added that those who have returned from one of the European countries or any country where the new strain has appeared after 08/12/2020, as determined by the Ministry of Health must adhere to a two-week home isolation and take a Covid-19 test every five days.

Furthermore, “anyone who has returned from or passed through a European country, or any country where the new strain has appeared, during the past three months, must take a Covid-19 test,” it said.

The ministry added that the movement of goods, commodities and supply chains from countries where the new strain of Covid-19 has not appeared are excluded from the above-mentioned measures.


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