UAE, Turkey to resume flights for first time since coronavirus

Flights between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are poised to resume within days for the first time since the pandemic forced authorities to shut airports earlier this year.

Flydubai, which is owned — like Emirates — by the Dubai government, will restart flights between Dubai and Istanbul starting on Dec. 17, according to a company spokeswoman. Turkish Airlines, in which Turkey’s government holds a 49% stake, plans to resume service on the route within days, said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified due to its sensitivity.

Turkish Airlines and Emirates withheld flights between their two hubs even as both carriers revived their pandemic-depleted schedules. While neither airline said why the services remain suspended, the prolonged halt coincided with a worsening of relations between the two nations.

The UAE’s aviation regulator didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mending Fences

The UAE and Turkey are on opposing sides of a proxy war in Libya and disagree on issues ranging from Syria and Iraq to the eastern Mediterranean. Like its close ally Saudi Arabia, the UAE views Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s version of political Islam as a destabilizing influence in the region.

The planned restoration of flights suggests that tensions between Turkey and the UAE are receding. Saudi and Turkish leaders agreed last month to keep their channels of dialogue open.

The Dubai-Istanbul journey, which takes between 4 and 5 hours, ranked among Emirates’ busier routes. For Turkish Airlines, the corridor provided a welcome way to attract budget-minded passengers headed for western Europe or North America through the country’s new Istanbul airport.

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UAE, Turkey to resume flights for first time since coronavirus