The Emirates flight to Dubai will no longer stop in Cyprus, as Malta will be part of a route stopping in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, instead.

An Emirates spokesperson confirmed the airline would stop the Malta-Cyprus-Dubai route as of March 1.

The airline cited “operational reasons” for the change when asked whether it had anything to do with talks currently under way for rival airline Etihad to take a substantial stake in Air Malta.

“Flights EK107 from Dubai to Malta and EK108 from Malta to Dubai will no longer be stopping in Larnaca, Cyprus… Emirates will continue to serve the Malta-Dubai route with five weekly flights on a circular routing via Tunis,” the spokesperson said. The Malta-Cyprus-Dubai flight was introduced in 2005, and three years ago Emirates upgraded its aircraft size to a larger Boeing 777-200 to meet growing demand.

The airline said from March 1 the Dubai-Tunis route will be re-routed, renumbered and extended to Malta to operate as EK749 from Dubai-Tunis-Malta-Dubai.

The flight will depart Dubai at 8.25am, arriving in Tunis at 12.45pm. Passengers to Malta will wait for one-and-a-half hours at Carthage Airport before leaving at 2.15pm. The aircraft will land in Malta at 3.25pm.

The outward route to Dubai will be a direct flight, leaving Malta International Airport at 4.45pm and landing in the United Arab Emirates at 12.50am the next day. Emirates said the flights will operate every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.