Ryanair has requested diplomatic authorization to fly repatriation flights out of Morocco to bring home stranded EU citizens next week. The move comes after Morocco banned all incoming international flights for two weeks in response to the Omicron variant. Let’s find out more.
In a statement today, the Irish Embassy in Morocco announced that it is seeking permission on behalf of Ryanair for repatriation flights. The low-cost giant plans to fly a series of repatriation flights on 7th December from Marrakesh to various destinations in the EU.
Flights will operate to Dublin, Barcelona/Madrid, Brussels (Charleroi), and Milan next Tuesday. If approved, these flights would allow thousands of EU nationals, residents, and visa holders to return to their countries. However, clearance from Moroccan authorities is still pending.
More details on the flights will be available in the coming hours and days. Keep an eye on the Irish Embassy’s feed for more information on schedules and bookings.
Ryanair’s repatriation flights come after Morocco suspended incoming international flights for at least 14 days. The ban came into effect on 30th November and will last until 13th December unless extended once again. From a quickly growing market to a travel ban, Ryanair has had a whirlwind month in Morocco.
All of this is a response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, first sequenced in South Africa last week. Since then, the variant has spread to over a dozen countries, including the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and many others. Given the scale of travel, we can almost be sure to see Omicron pop up in more places.
To reduce the risk of importing cases of the new variant, Morocco opted to close its border. However, this has left many stuck in the country and reduced connectivity due to the absence of foreign carriers. Expect to see more repatriation flights in the future.
However, Morocco has long been cautious with its border requirements. The country had already suspended flights from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, and France over high caseloads. Given this, it wasn’t too surprising when the new variant triggered a temporary border closure.
Travel hit again
Just as the aviation industry began to find its feet thanks to vaccinations and testing, it’s hit with a new curveball. Airlines are now reducing flights in response to travel bans and lower demand from passengers. To sum up the threat from Omicron, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark told Reuters,
“December is a very important month for the air travel business. If that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery.”
For now, airlines are still hoping that the winter can be rescued.
What do you think about flights bans in response to Omicron? Let us know in the comments!