ABU DABHI: Saudia, state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, said it will operate 23 flights to bring back citizens from the UAE before the travel ban takes effect today (Sunday), according to Bandar Al Fawzan, Director of Saudi Airlines Operations at Dubai Airport.
Al Fawzan told Al Ekhbariya TV that 23 scheduled and unscheduled flights will be operated from the UAE, as part of efforts to increase the seat capacity to three times.
He confirmed the application of all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, even with the expected pressure on flights from the UAE to the kingdom.
Saudi authorities are banning travel to and from the UAE, Ethiopia and Vietnam, over concerns about the spread of more infectious variants of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Interior announced on Saturday.
Flights to and from the three countries will be suspended on Sunday, July 4, at 11pm, the ministry said. Anyone who arrives in the kingdom after this date will be required to undergo institutional quarantine, whether or not they are Saudis.
The restrictions do not apply to foreigners who have visited any of the countries but left them, or any other country on which the kingdom has imposed a travel ban, at least 14 days before arriving in Saudi Arabia.
Saudis were given permission to travel to certain countries outside the Kingdom from May 17, provided they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered after catching the virus. Those who have received only the first dose of a vaccine are required to wait 14 days before travelling. Those who have recovered from infection must wait six months after testing negative before flying.
In January, Saudi Arabia set March 31 as the date on which the suspension of international flights would be lifted, but this was pushed back to allow more people to be vaccinated.
Health authorities in the kingdom reported 1,338 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 16 additional deaths.