Emirates recent travel announcements provide an insight into its approach to leadership in providing, and encouraging safe international travel.
Compulsory Covid-19 Test Requirement
From 1 August 2020, all passengers boarding an Emirates flight that travels to or via Dubai will require a certificate confirming that they have received a negative test for Covid-19 within the 96 hours (4 days) prior to boarding the flight.
The wording on the Emirates website page setting out these requirements initially caused confusion as Emirates published a list of the countries whose passengers would require a negative test before travelling. As New Zealand wasn't listed as one of the countries, there was an initial thought that we would be excluded. Emirates New Zealand has however confirmed for us that passengers flying with Emirates from New Zealand via Dubai are required to obtain a negative test certificate.
In addition to the negative test certificate, this Emirates Health Declaration Form must be completed prior to departure. This form can be completed ahead of time and Emirates has advised that these will be available at check-in.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health has prepared a list of Pre-Departure Covid Test Frequently Asked Questions regarding obtaining tests and the process for arranging one through your GP.
Although four days may seem like sufficient time for a Covid Test to be processed and a negative test certificate produced, we've already seen an instance where this timing may be tight. If you have a test on a Friday for a Monday flight, and the test needs to be sent away to a main centre for processing, the weekend may cause delays. We've raised this issue with Emirates and expect there will be other practical issues that may arise.
Free Cover for Covid-19
Emirates has announced that it has become the first airline to offer free global cover for Covid-19. This cover from Emirates is also available when you book your Emirates flights through Fine Travel.
Emirates has promoted the cover as:
We’re the first airline to provide free cover for your health and quarantine costs if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 on your travels. We’re keeping you safe on the journey and giving you extra security wherever you are in the world.
The cover includes:
- Assistance at any time when you fly between 23 July 2020 and 31 October 2020
- Free global cover for all customers
- Applies to every travel class
- Valid for 31 days
- No registration required
- COVID-19 health expenses up to EUR 150,000
- Quarantine costs EUR 100 per day for 14 days
- Free 24-hour hotline support number
Full details are available from Emirates or your Fine Travel Consultant.
Will these Announcements Encourage International Travel?
For New Zealanders considering flying to the UK and Europe with Emirates, these announcements will address two of the major concerns with flying in the current environment:
- Will I catch Covid-19 from one of the other passengers onboard? (the risk is much lower now if everyone onboard has had a negative Covid-19 test result).
- How do I meet health care costs if I contract Covid-19 and my travel insurance won't cover it? (the Emirates policy should provide cover).
The major challenge for New Zealand travellers will continue to be the mandatory 14 day isolation or quarantine requirement on returning to New Zealand (and the prospect of having to contribute to the cost).
As the timetable for, and likelihood of a Covid-19 vaccine remains uncertain, we certain welcome and encourage innovations from Emirates that make international travel somewhat safer and less risky for New Zealanders who need to travel during this time.