Middle Eastern carrier Emirates has restored its flight schedules, after four days of disruption caused by thunderstorms and torrential rain in Dubai.

But president Tim Clark acknowledges that the airline’s response to the extraordinary weather conditions has been “far from perfect”.

As the storm, which emerged on 16 April, inflicted flooding and high winds on Dubai’s main airport, as well as downtown, Emirates was forced to cancel nearly 400 flights and delay or divert dozens more.

Clark says that, while the airport remained open, the flooded roads prevented flightcrew and airport personnel, as well as supplies and customers, from reaching the hub. Aircraft movements were also reduced for safety reasons.

“We acknowledge and understand the frustration of our customers due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals,” says Clark. “We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable.”


Source: Emirates

Severe thunderstorms and rainfall forced Emirates to cancel some 400 flights over three days

Although the flight schedule is back on track, and stranded passengers are being rebooked, the airline is still working to deliver around 30,000 items of baggage.

“This week has been one of the toughest for Emirates operationally,” says Clark, pointing out that the United Arab Emirates experienced its highest level of rainfall in 75 years.

He says the airline had to suspend check-in for departing passengers and put an embargo in place on ticket sales. It also had to stop connecting passenger traffic arriving at Dubai. The measures were aimed at freeing resources and capacity to assist affected customers.

Over 12,000 hotel rooms were used to accommodate customers in Dubai, says Clark, and more than 100 volunteers help to support departing and transit passengers.

“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,” he adds.

Clark says the rebooking and baggage backlog will take “some more days” to clear, but the carrier has “taken learnings” from the situation to “make things right and improve our processes”.