'A shock to the system': Stranded Australians voice their frustration as Emirates suspends international flights

Ryan Sims, from Brisbane, had his Emirates flight home cancelled after the airline announced it would not be flying in or out of Australia. Source: SBS News

There are approximately 37,000 Australians still stranded overseas, with the nation's international arrivals cap slashed by almost half.

Stranded Australians have voiced their frustration with the Australian government after Emirates confirmed the suspension of many of its international flights into and out of Australia.

The Dubai-based carrier announced that flights to and from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne would stop “until further notice” due to “operational reasons”.

26-year-old Ryan Sims, from Brisbane, is currently in Poland, but has spent most of the last year in the United Kingdom. 

He had an Emirates flight home in February before it was cancelled. 

"It's a shock to the system, but it's not a surprise. Cancelled flights are a daily occurrence now for Australians over here," he told SBS News. 

Ryan Sims, from Brisbane, is currently in Poland, but has spent most of the last year in the United Kingdom.
Ryan Sims, from Brisbane, is currently in Poland, but has spent most of the last year in the United Kingdom.
SBS News

Mr Sims said he didn't blame the Emirates airline, but the Australian government's policies which had reduced international capacity.

"The real frustration is with the Australian government. We are a year into the pandemic and people are still saying they can't find places for Australians to come home," he said. 

The airline has advised their last flights in and out of each city are as follows:

- Dubai-Brisbane (EK430), 16 January
- Brisbane-Dubai (EK431), 17 January
- Dubai-Sydney (EK414), 18 January
- Sydney-Dubai (EK415), 19 January
- Dubai-Melbourne (EK408), 19 January
- Melbourne-Dubai (EK409), 20 January

Emirates has advised those with tickets to the affected destinations to contact the airline or their travel agent.

"Customers holding tickets with final destinations Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin after the completion of the above flights," the airline said in a statement on its website.

"Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options."

The Australian High Commission in the UK issued a statement saying it “appreciates the disruption this will cause”.

In a statement to SBS News, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are around 38,000 people currently registered as being overseas and wanting to return, of which around 5,000 are considered vulnerable.

"Further facilitated flights to support the return of vulnerable Australians overseas are planned for the coming weeks from the United Kingdom, India, United States and other countries," the statement said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced there will now be a reduced cap of 1505 travellers a week to New South Wales, 512 to Western Australia and 500 to Queensland.

"That will be reviewed now by 15 February, not under the arrangement we previously had, which was at the end of this month,” he said.

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