Emirates to postpone launching flights to Israel due to Omicron variant

Emirates to postpone launching flights to Israel due to Omicron variant
Emirates airline said it will postpone launching flights to Israel which were set to begin next week after the Israeli government said it was shutting its borders to prevent the spread of Omicron
2 min read
29 November, 2021
Emirates was supposed to begin flying to Tel Aviv from 6 December [Getty]

Emirates airline announced on Sunday the postponement of direct flights to Israel, which were planned to launch next month, until further notice, after Israel decided to shut its borders to foreigners due to fears over the rapid spread of a new coronavirus variant.

"The delay came due to recent changes in Israeli entry protocols," according to an email statement sent out by a spokesperson for the Dubai-based carrier.

Emirates was planning to start daily flights to Tel Aviv on 6 December until the Omicron variant hit.

The UAE and Israel normalised ties last year and have been speedy in signing several cooperation agreements.

The airline's weekend announcement comes a day after Israel announced it would ban foreigners from entering the country, lengthen quarantines for citizens and residents returning from abroad and reinstate controversial cellphone surveillance designed to track infections.

Those wishing to enter Israel must be given prior approval by a special committee, the Israeli government said.

However, Israel said it will still host the Miss Universe beauty pageant in the Red Sea resort of Eilat on 12 December, despite the measures.

The new restrictions - taken by other countries - come as governments work to prevent the spread of the new Covid variant Omicron.

The new strain is said to have many more mutations than the Delta variant, according to a first "image" of this new variant produced and published by the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.