Emirates airline will continue flying to Russia unless Dubai government says stop
Dubai-owned Emirates airline has vowed to continue flying to Russia unless told to stop by the government, following an embargo on Moscow by the UAE's western allies.
Sir Tom Clarke, the airline’s British president, said the decision to suspend flights was "not his call" but up to UAE authorities who have so far maintained a neutral stance on Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, according to the BBC.
Several other airlines, including British Airways, stopped services to and from Russia after Moscow banned carriers from 38 countries, including all 27 members of the EU, from its airspace.
The Russian ban followed punitive measures from the West, including sweeping sanctions, in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine launched on 24 February.
"We are catering to people who are on the periphery of the main issue here, and that is probably the way the [UAE] government looks at it," said Clarke.
“If we are told to stop we will stop, unless we are told otherwise, we will continue,” he added.
Clarke also said demand for Emirates’ services was "roaring" despite a hike in oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The New Arab contacted Emirates to confirm in what instance they would suspend flights to Russia. No response was received before publication.
The UAE, alongside Saudi Arabia, has rejected calls from the West to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine invasion.
It abstained from a UN Security Council vote to condemn Russia in February and from April's vote to remove Moscow from the UN Human Rights Council.
Emirates is now one of the few airlines continuing to fly to Moscow. Others include Turkey's Pegasus Airlines, Air Serbia - for which a number of flights are sold out in April - and Qatar Airways.
Russia’s Aeroflot has suspended all international flights except for services to Belarus' capital Minsk due to sanctions.
Clarke warned that flight suspensions "will have an impact on the [aviation] industry".