The Australian government has committed to chartering 20 repatriation flights for citizens stranded overseas after Emirates’ sudden suspension of services to the east coast.

Acting Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham said the government would orchestrate the additional services from “priority areas” around the world.

“We’ve been mindful that many Australians have sought to come home, partly as result of our COVID success and partly through the normal operations of people coming and going from the country,” Mr Birmingham said on Saturday.

“These facilitated flights will be bring Australian’s home over and above the caps that have been agreed by national cabinet … transporting people into Howards Spring in the Northern Territory, Canberra or Tasmania locations that are willing to work above those caps on case-by-case basis.

“The capacity that Emirates was able to use within the cap will be allocated to other airlines, ensuring that there are still as many tickets, as many seats, into Australia after Emirates’ decision as there would have been beforehand.”

In a statement, Emirates said flights between Dubai and Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne would be suspended until further notice due to “operational reasons”.

The last scheduled flights are:

  • Dubai ‑ Brisbane ‑ EK430 on January 16
  • Brisbane – Dubai ‑ EK431 on January 17
  • Dubai ‑ Sydney ‑ EK414 on January 18
  • Sydney – Dubai ‑ EK415 on January 19
  • Dubai ‑ Melbourne ‑ EK408 on January 19
  • Melbourne – Dubai ‑ EK409 on January 20

“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 statement read.

“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused.”

Travellers affected by the suspension are advised to contact their travel agent or Emirates’ contact centre for rebooking options.