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Emirates has announced that it will resume a series of flights in and out of Australia, reversing a decision it made just a week earlier.

Overnight Emirates said passenger flights to Sydney would resume from January 25, with Melbourne flights starting January 26 and Brisbane flights starting January 28. The airline’s Perth flights had remained in place, and its twice-weekly services were unaffected.

An Emirates Airlines plane waits on the runway at Melbourne Airport on December 12, 2019. (Paul Oak)

While the initial suspension of flights from Australia’s east coast only cited “operational reasons”, today’s announcement shed more light on the matter.

“The pandemic has made international flights an incredible challenge and the dynamic restrictions and requirements implemented by the different state authorities in Australia have added complexity and burden to our operations,” the airline said in a statement.

“This led us to temporarily suspend passenger services while we engaged with various stakeholders regarding crew protocols and other operational details.”

The airline also noted that the government’s toughest restrictions will go into effect today.

The new mask regulations mean that travelers on domestic flights and within airports must wear a mask at all times, while travelers must show a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before boarding.

An Emirates plane taxis to a gate at Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)

International aircrews are required to undergo a COVID-19 test in Australia every seven days, they will have their own specialized quarantine location and will not be allowed to move.

Emirates says the intensified testing and quarantine situation will be “an additional burden on our crew.”

“All of our crew (cabin crew and pilots) operating on Australian flights were already mandated to conduct a PCR test 48 hours before the scheduled flight departure from Dubai. With the final adjustments, these tests will be administered at their homes. and our crew will also observe the self quarantine in their homes from the time of the test until their flight.

“Combined with hotel quarantine and testing on arrival in Australia, this means that our crew is in a ‘bubble’ from 48 hours prior to their flight, until they return to Dubai. This is an additional burden on our crew as individuals, for our roster and operating costs and therefore this decision was made after careful review and consideration.

“We are grateful that our wonderful crew teams are very understanding and understanding, which has allowed us to quickly restart passenger services.”

The news of the resumption of services will be a relief for some of the 38,000 Australians still stranded abroad, hoping to return home shortly, as international arrival limits are cut by almost half.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the changes to the arrival figures following the most recent National Cabinet meeting earlier this month.

Morrison said there will be reduced limits for international travelers entering Australia. These are as follows:

  • NSW – 1505 travelers per week
  • Western Australia: 512 travelers per week
  • Queensland: 500 travelers per week
  • Victoria – no change
  • South Australia: unchanged (currently 490)

These cap numbers will be reviewed by February 15th.

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