Emirates boss apologises for congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminal

After days of chaos at Dubai International Airport, which has seen hundreds of thousands passengers stranded, the boss of Emirates Airline has offered “most sincere apologies to every customer who has had their travel plans disrupted”.

Unprecedented flooding has caused havoc at the world’s busiest international aviation hub since Tuesday. The biggest airline is Emirates, which has cancelled the flights of 200,000 passengers and delayed many more.

The airline’s president, Sir Tim Clark, has written an open letter to passengers, saying: “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.”

In a bid to limit the crowding at Dubai airport and clear some of the stranded passengers, Emirates temporarily suspended check in at its hub and for passengers booked to fly in from points around the world.

Many travellers are still stuck thousands of miles from home. A dozen Saturday morning arrivals from key locations were cancelled, with passengers heading for the UK left with few rights.

Cancelled flights inbound to Dubai included:

  • Australasia: Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
  • Africa: Cape Town (two), Johannesburg, Dakar and Nairobi.
  • Indian sub-continent: Hyderabad, Mauritius and Mumbai.
A drone view of cars and trucks lying partially submerged following heavy rainfall in Dubai (REUTERS)

From this afternoon, Saturday 20 April, Emirates appears to be flying a full schedule, with some flights delayed.

Sir Tim, who is the most influential figure in global aviation, writes; “Passengers previously stranded in the airport transit area have been rebooked and are en route 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.”

The Independent has been hearing from disgruntled passengers about delays and confusion. John Baker, who travelled from Bangkok to Birmingham via Dubai, described chaotic scenes at the hub with inaccurate and delayed information.

“I know the weather is beyond anyone’s control, but timely information reduces irritation even if it is bad news.

“There was no information. A company like Emirates must plan for response in such situations.”

Mr Baker eventually arrived in Birmingham around eight hours late, but his baggage is apparently still in Dubai.

Other airlines have been affected: British Airways has not flown its full schedule to and from Dubai since Tuesday, with the airport imposing capacity restrictions. BA appears to be running normally from Sunday.

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