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Coronavirus: Emirates airline to begin limited passenger services to US, Asia, North Africa

Flights to Algiers, Tunis, Jakarta, Manila, Taipei, Kabul and Chicago to operate for those wishing to return home
Passengers are assisted at the check-in counter in a terminal of Dubai International Airport on 6 April, 2020 (AFP)

Dubai's Emirates airline said on Monday that it plans to operate limited passenger services to Algiers, Tunis, Jakarta, Manila, Taipei, Kabul and Chicago, loosening restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The services will facilitate the departure of residents and visitors who wish to return home, the carrier said in a statement.

“Passengers will be able to book directly on emirates.com or via their travel agent,” it said. 

“Only citizens of the destination country and those who meet the entry requirements will be allowed to board. Passengers will be required to comply with each country’s requirement.”

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It did not say when the flights would operate.

The United Arab Emirates is permitting a limited number of outbound-only flights for those wishing to leave the country after suspending regular services last month.

Emirates said on Monday that services on the limited flights will be amended to reduce contact that might lead to infection. 

“Magazines and other print reading material will not be available, and while food and beverages will continue to be offered on board, packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service and the risk of infection,” the company said. 

It added that cabin baggage will not be permitted, while carry-on items will be limited to laptops, handbags, briefcases and baby items.

On 23 March, the UAE announced that it would halt all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks. In addition, foreign airlines would no longer be allowed to land or transit through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any other airport in the UAE.

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On 6 April, the Gulf country's two biggest carriers, Emirates and Etihad Airways, resumed limited passenger flights. The flights commenced from Dubai to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich, with four flights a week to London and three flights a week to the other cities. 

The UAE has so far reported 4,123 cases of coronavirus and 22 deaths.