Tim Clark, Emirates’ President
Passengers previously stranded in the airport transit area have been rebooked and are enroute to their destinations, says Emirates’ President Tim Clark. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates has restored its regular flight schedules as of Saturday, April 20, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said in an open letter to airline passengers.

“As of this morning, Saturday April 20, our regular flight schedules have been restored. Passengers previously stranded in the airport transit area have been rebooked and are enroute to their destinations,” said Clark.

“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 said.

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The airline has also put together a taskforce to sort, reconcile, and deliver some 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage to their owners, said Clark.

On Tuesday, April 16, the UAE experienced its highest rainfall in 75 years. Lashing storm winds and rain disrupted activity across the cities and the past week has been one of the toughest for Emirates operationally, as record storms hit the UAE.

“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,” said Clark.

400 flights cancelled in 3 days

Clark offered his sincere apologies to every passenger whose travel plans were disrupted during this time. Emirates was forced to cancel nearly 400 flights and delay many more in the aftermath of the storm on Tuesday.

He said, “We know our response has been far from perfect. We acknowledge and understand our customers’ frustration due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals.

Emirates diverted dozens of flights on Tuesday to avoid the worst of the weather. Over the next three days, the airline had to cancel its flights, as DXB, Emirates’ hub operations, remained challenged by staffing and supply shortages, said Clark.

“We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable. We take our commitment to our passengers very seriously, and we have taken learnings from the last few days to make things right and improve our processes,” he explained.

A mammoth course correction plan

Clark said the airline was clear on two priorities: “Look after our customers who the disruption has impacted and get our operations back on schedule,” he said.

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,” he explained.

The airline 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.

Recovery operations in numbers
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