No one will be allowed to fly on Emirates or Etihad flights unless they first show a negative test for COVID-19, according to strict new rules in the United Arab Emirates.
The requirement comes into force on August 1 and applies to all passengers, regardless of whether they're staying in the UAE or transiting through the airlines' hubs at Dubai or Abu Dhabi to another destination.
Passengers will need to be tested for the virus at a testing facility approved by their airline within 96 hours of their flight.
They will then need to present a printed copy of the negative test result when they check in for their flight. Those who cannot produce printed evidence of a negative result will be denied their plane ticket.
Emirates and Etihad are both popular airlines for travelling to the Middle East and Europe from New Zealand and Australia.
While New Zealand's closed international borders means most have no future plans for international travel, the new rule will affect those with special permission to fly overseas, as well as those catching repatriation flights from abroad.
It is part of a range of new measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the UAE, which has recorded just under 60,000 cases of the virus since the pandemic started, with 347 deaths.
Emirates which flies a direct Auckland to Dubai service four times a week was told to suspend new bookings by the government this month, due to low capacity at New Zealand quarantine facilities.
The airline which is resuming some services next month announced it would foot the bill for medical and quarantine costs for passengers who contract the virus, in a bid to boost travellers' confidence.
The Dubai-based airline – the largest in the Middle East – said it would cover medical expenses of almost $265,000 and quarantine hotel costs of approximately $172 per day for 14 days, should passengers be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel.
This news comes as New Zealand announces that travellers will now be required to contribute towards their managed isolation hotel stay and will pay up to $3100 per room and $950 for each extra adult and $475 per child.
"Emirates has worked hard to put in place measures at every step of the customer journey to mitigate risk of infection, and we have also revamped our booking policies to offer flexibility," the airline said.
"We are now taking it to the next level, by being the first in the industry to offer our customers free global cover for COVID-19 medical expenses and quarantine costs should they incur these costs during their travel. It is an investment on our part, but we are putting our customers first, and we believe they will welcome this initiative."
The offer is for all customers regardless of class of travel or destination and is available now until October 31, 2020.
- With additional Herald staff reporting