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Etihad flights that landed in Saudi on Monday had to return with all non-Saudi nationals

Etihad flights that landed in Saudi on Monday had to return with all non-Saudi nationals

The kingdom temporarily suspended flights to and from nine countries, including the UAE, on Monday

Etihad Airways has temporarily suspended all flights between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, following a directive issued by the kingdom’s General Authority for Civil Aviation, it announced on Monday.

The kingdom announced on Monday that flights to and from nine countries, including the UAE, would be suspended to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Read: Saudi Arabia bans travel to UAE, eight other countries

Etihad, which operates up to 12 flights per day between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, said it had cancelled seven flights on Monday.

Another four flights which were en-route to Saudi Arabia at the time of the directive were permitted to land.

When the flights arrived in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, Saudi nationals were permitted to disembark but all other passengers remained on the aircraft, to return to Abu Dhabi, a statement said.

The fourth flight operated to Madinah to repatriate Umrah passengers, the airline added.

Etihad is now advising passengers who were booked to travel to Saudi about the new restrictions.

“For passengers impacted by the flight cancellations, procedures are in place for fare refunds or for flight changes when services resume,” the statement said.

“Etihad Airways is working closely with regulatory authorities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and is continuing to monitor this situation closely,” it added.

Along with flight suspensions to and from the UAE, the kingdom has also banned Saudi citizens and residents from travelling to and from or transiting through Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Egypt and Korea.

The decision reportedly excludes evacuation, shipping and trade trips.

The kingdom’s ministries of interior and health said they would coordinate to deal with humanitarian and exceptional cases.

Read: Saudi Arabia to close schools indefinitely from Monday

The latest move comes after Saudi announced on Monday that four additional cases of the virus had been detected in the country.

The first case was that of a citizen who was in contact with a previously announced case in Al-Qatif Governorate; the second and third cases were of Bahraini women coming from Iraq on their way to Bahrain while the fourth case was of a US resident returning from travel, having passed through the Philippines and Italy before arriving into the kingdom.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Saudi now stands at 15.

Read: GCC coronavirus update: Total cases reach 200

 

 

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