United Arab Emirates on Tuesday banned all flights to and from Iran, over the outbreak of the new coronavirus, just a day after its spread from the Islamic Republic was announced across multiple Middle East nations. Iran meanwhile raised the official death toll from the virus, to 15 killed amid 95 confirmed infections.
The UAE remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people. The flight ban, which will last at least a week, shows the growing concern over the spread of the virus in Iran; amid worries that the outbreak may be larger than what authorities there now acknowledge.
“All passenger and cargo aircraft traveling to and from Iran will be suspended for a period of one week, and could be up for extension,”
The Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority authority said. “The decision is a precautionary measure undertaken by the UAE, to ensure strict monitoring and prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus.”
Various foreign carriers since Monday (Feb 24th 2020) gradually cancelled or closed reservations for service to Iran including: flydubai, Oman Air, Pegasus, SalamAir and Turkish Airlines. You can see the cancellation details here.
Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman also announced their first cases of the virus on Monday and connected them to travel with Iran.
Bahrain Cancels all Flights to/from Dubai and Sharjah for 48 hours
Bahrain's civil aviation authority suspended all flights arriving from Dubai and Sharjah for 48 hours, early on Tuesday.
The flight ban affects at least 15 flights a day to Bahrain from Dubai International Airport. Emirates, FlyDubai, Gulf Air operate between Dubai and Bahrain while Air Arabia operates between Sharjah and Bahrain. Air service between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain is not affected.
"Due to the temporary suspension of air services between Dubai and Bahrain, the following Emirates flights have been cancelled on February 25th and 26th:
- EK837/838: Dubai – Bahrain - Dubai
- EK839/840: Dubai – Bahrain - Dubai
- EK833/834: Dubai – Bahrain - Dubai
- EK835/836: Dubai – Bahrain - Dubai
A spokeswoman said from Emirates Airline.
Bahrain’s Health Ministry, on Tuesday, raised the number of infected cases from the new virus to eight, saying that all had travelled from Iran via Dubai. Four of them have been identified as Saudi nationals. The cases were confirmed upon arrival to Bahrain during screenings at the airport, and prior to the suspension on flights to Dubai and Sharjah, according to Bahrain’s official news agency.
Meanwhile, Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases from three to five people. All five were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.
Kuwait had halted transportation links with Iran over the weekend and was evacuating its citizens from Iran. Kuwait Airways have suspended flights to Iran from 21st Feb until 23rd Oct, Italy and Thailand from 25th Feb to 5th March.