Dubai airport: travel chaos continues as new limit on arrivals is imposed

As airline passengers endure a fourth day of travel chaos at the world’s biggest international air hub Dubai, Emirates has told travellers they cannot check in until 1am on Saturday British time (4am Dubai time).

The airline says: “Customers with connections in Dubai will only be accepted at their point of origin if their flight departs after 23:59hrs GMT, 19 April. This is to support operations recovery from the recent bad weather at our Dubai hub.

“Customers already in transit in Dubai, travelling to Dubai as their final destination, or departing from Dubai can continue to check in and travel.”

Severe flooding has caused more than 1,000 flight cancellations, with many other arrivals and departures hit by diversions and long delays.

Normally a quarter-million passengers pass through the airport every day, but the airport authority has imposed restrictions on the number of arrivals.

According to the tracking service Flightradar24, by 2pm British time on Thursday, 1,145 flights had been cancelled – representing one-third of the normal schedule.

At noon local time on Friday, Dubai Airports introduced a 48-hour capacity reduction for arrivals. A spokesperson said the move was intended “to assist the effectiveness of recovery”.

Earlier, the Dubai Airports spokesperson said: This is the heaviest rainfall the UAE received in 75 years and we’re doing all we can to get operations back to normal.”

A backlog of passengers’ baggage is building at the airport. The spokesperson said: “We have been providing necessary assistance and amenities to affected guests but due to road blockages, it’s taken longer than we would have liked.

“We know how frustrating cancellations, disruptions and delays are to travel plans and our teams are working around the clock to help our guests. Our passenger’s safety and wellbeing is our primary concern and we thank them for their patience.”

British travellers booked on Emirates have told The Independent of extended waits and long delays.

Gerry Byrne flew in from Tokyo to Dubai on Wednesday, expecting an immediate connection to London Heathrow. Instead, he and his wife are currently in a hotel with a four-day wait until they can be flown home. He reported chaotic scenes at Dubai airport, with limited food and drink, as well as a “dangerous stampede” by passengers.

Two flights that did get out from Dubai for London Heathrow on Thursday evening, Emirates flights EK3 and EK5, were unable to land on Friday morning due to being too late for scheduled hours. Instead, passengers arrived at Birmingham at 12.30am and at Gatwick at 3am.

Dozens more Emirates flights have been cancelled on Friday, including two departures to Cape Town and other links to Bali, Bangalore, Colombo, Dhaka, Mauritius, Mumbai and Singapore.

The inbound legs of these cancelled flights would normally be carrying substantial numbers of British passengers returning from trips abroad.

UK air passengers’ rights rules, requiring alternative transport as soon as possible and a duty of care to provide hotels and accommodation, do not apply to non-UK/EU airlines flying from points outside Europe.

The airline says: “Emirates extends our sincerest apologies to impacted customers who have experienced delays and disruption to their travel plans. We appreciate how difficult it is for everyone affected.”

British Airways has cancelled many of its London Heathrow-Dubai flights since the flooding began.

A spokesperson for BA said: “Like other airlines, we’ve had to adjust our schedule to Dubai due to ongoing restrictions at the airport caused by the adverse weather conditions.

“Our teams are in contact with affected customers providing support and rebooking options.”

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