The General Civil Aviation Authority and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority of the United Arab Emirates have brought forward the directive to suspend all transit, inbound and outbound passenger flights in the country.
The announcement was made yesterday in a statement from Etihad Airways, with the decision being made in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus and protect residents, citizens and overseas travellers alike.
The result of the move is that all departures set to take off from Abu Dhabi International Airport have been immediately suspended by Etihad Airways for an initial 14-day period, subject to the relevant authorities issuing any further directives.
The carrier has expressed its regret for any disruption and inconvenience caused to customers during this difficult time, and will continue to try to help customers by advising them of the options they still have.
All guests who have been affected by the current temporary suspension of flights should visit the carrier’s website to gain a greater understanding of the options available to them for rebooking.
Etihad Airways is continuing to follow the directives from the UAE and overseas governments and regulatory authorities and will put a contingency plan into operation to help those customers who are affected.
The resumption of services will be announced by the airline via normal channels once the restrictions have been lifted.
Etihad Airways staff members have also had to take pay cuts of as much as 50% because of the havoc being wreaked on the aviation industry in the UAE and across the world by the coronavirus crisis.
A spokesman for Etihad Airways told Arabian Business that the difficult decision to temporarily cut down on the basic salaries of all members of staff, including executives, from between 25% and 50% was taken to protect its workforce as much as possible.
The salary cut will apply to all staff members in April, after which time a review of the situation will be conducted.
Education and housing assistance will continue uninterrupted during the period of the pay cut.
The incredibly difficult decision was taken in order to secure the future of the company and the Etihad family, according to the Etihad Airways spokesman.
As much as $252bn could be lost by airlines all over the world because of the crisis.
Meanwhile, the decision to stop flights from the airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which occurred with little fanfare on Tuesday night, has left hundreds of travellers from Europe stranded in the UAE.
One case of coronavirus has also been detected among the staff working on the Expo 2020 Dubai world fair, which is expected to commence seven months in October, with 13 million visitors from overseas having been expected to attend.
However, organisers say that they are now reviewing the preparations in the wake of the coronavirus infection having been detected.
Anyone who chooses to travel after the restrictions have been lifted should ensure that they are covered by travel insurance in the event of further flight cancellations or delays.