Contrails streaking across the sky and massive A380s roaring over airport perimeter fences are as much part of the landscape of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as shiny skyscrapers and glamorous beachfronts.
But this morning the blue skies above the UAE – arguably the world’s largest aviation hub – fell silent following a blanket ban on commercial flights operating in and out of the country in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Flight tracking site Flightradar24 shows just a smattering of cargo flights overflying the region and the final few passenger jets taxiing to their parking bays.
The ban, first announced on Monday, was due to come into force from 11.59pm on Wednesday but was brought forward to Tuesday 24 March.
Etihad Airways confirmed late on Tuesday that it would suspend all departures from Abu Dhabi International Airport immediately for an initial 14 days.
“We deeply regret any inconvenience and disruption this will cause our customers during this challenging period,” the airline said in a statement.
Emirates and flydubai have also ceased all passenger flights operating out of Dubai.
Dubai Airports said in a statement that all inbound and outbound passenger flights, and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE, would halt for two week from 11:59 pm on Tuesday 24 March.
“During this time, vital cargo and emergency evacuation flights will operate, however all other flights will come to a temporary halt and our two airports – Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) – will be closed to the travelling public until further notice,” a statement read.