UAE rains: Emirates Airline president breaks silence after DXB Airport crisis

Emirates regular flight schedules have been restored; it will; however, take some more days to clear the backlog of rebooked passengers and bags
An undated image of Emirates planes. — Pixabay
An undated image of Emirates planes. — Pixabay

Day after Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs, remained in disarray due to unprecedented heavy rain, Emirates Airline President Tim Clark broke silence on the challenges faced by the passengers.

“This week has been one of the toughest for Emirates operationally, as record storms hit the United Arab Emirates,” the president said, apologising for the disruption of flights.

It should be noted that UAE experienced its highest rainfall in 75 years on Tuesday (April 16) as lashing storm winds and rain disrupted activity across the cities.

The president announced that as of this morning, Saturday (April 20), Emirates regular flight schedules have been restored.

“Passengers previously stranded in the airport transit area have been rebooked and are enroute to their destinations. We have put together a taskforce to sort, reconcile, and deliver some 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage to their owners.

“It will take us some more days to clear the backlog of rebooked passengers and bags, and we ask for our customers’ patience and understanding,” he added.

Recalling the incidents that took place earlier this week, he said: “Our 24/7 hub in Dubai remained open, with flight movements reduced for safety, but flooded roads impeded the ability of our customers, pilots, cabin crew, and airport employees to reach the airport, and also the movement of essential supplies like meals and other flight amenities.”

“We diverted dozens of flights to avoid the worst of the weather on Tuesday, and over the next three days we had to cancel nearly 400 flights and delay many more, as our hub operations remained challenged by staffing and supply shortages,” Clark said in an open letter to customers.

He revealed that the airline had two major priorities during this time; first being customer well-being who have been impacted by the disruption, and second to get operations back on schedule.

Clark further mentioned that in order to free up resources and capacity to manage impacted customers as a priority, the airline had to suspend check-in for passengers departing Dubai, implement an embargo on ticket sales, and temporarily halt connecting passenger traffic from points across our network coming into Dubai.

“We deployed additional resources to aid our airport and contact centre teams with rebooking and put on additional flights to destinations where we identified large numbers of displaced customers.

“We sent over 100 employee volunteers to look after disrupted customers at Dubai Airport departures and in the transit area, prioritising medical cases, the elderly and other vulnerable travellers. To date, over 12,000 hotel rooms were secured to accommodate disrupted customers in Dubai, 250,000 meal vouchers have been issued, and more quantities of drinking water, blankets, and other amenities,” he added.

“We know our response has been far from perfect. We acknowledge and understand the frustration of our customers due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals. We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable.

“We take our commitment to our customers very seriously, and we have taken learnings from the last few days to make things right and improve our processes,” he concluded.