Emirates aircraft, EK521, flying from Thiruvananthapuram, India, to Dubai made an emergency landing at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday. Emirates confirmed that there were no fatalities among the passengers and crew. A firefighter was however confirmed to have died saving others. Welcome to day two of Gulf News’ rolling coverage of the incident and its fallout. Check out day one live coverage
Press conference updates
Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive, and Chris Garton, Dubai Airports executive vice president operations, are addressing the media.
Griffiths: "The 29-hour recovery period shows how much support we have from so many different people. We were able to facilitate with the GCAA to get the investigation underway right away."
Griffiths says some Dubai Airports employees were injured, including police and firefighters.
Griffiths: "There was very light damage to the runway."
Free food and beverage continues until 6am Friday.
Normal airport operations expected to resume in 48 hours.
Griffiths: "We are prioritising larger aircraft... If we restrict movements to larger aircraft we can move more passengers."
Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports chief executive, and Chris Garton, Dubai Airports executive vice president operations addressing the media.
Griffiths: "We are working with all the airlines."
242 flights cancelled, 64 diverted.
"The runways will now return to their full capacity gradually over the coming days."
19,000 passengers affected Wednesday alone.
Etisalat and du have given Dubai International additional wifi capacity.
Earlier updates: Cancellations and delays continue
Flight cancellations and delays at Dubai International continued Thursday afternoon.
A total of 237 flights had been cancelled and 44 flights diverted since the incident occurred at 12:45pm the previous day, operator Dubai Airports said in a statement.
Flight disruptions have affected 19,000 passengers so far and it will take 48 hours for the airport to resume normal operations, the operator said.
Emirates expects flight disruptions for the next 36 hours, the airline said in a statement Thursday midday. It cancelled 27 flights and diverted 24 services on Wednesday and that the disruption had affected 23,000 of its passengers, the statement said.
It was not immediately clear why there was a discrepancy between Emirates and Dubai Airports’ figures for affected passengers. Emirates is the largest airline at the airport but also operates several services that do not fly to or from Dubai such as Milan to New York.
Black box being recovered
In a statement earlier today, Emirates said work is underway to recover the flight data and cockpit voice records.
The airline said the wreck of the aircraft will be moved to a secure location for examination.
The investigation will be led by the General Civil Aviation Authority, assisted by Boeing, Emirates, and Rolls-Royce.
Dubai airports statement
Dubai Airports confirms that a total of 116 arriving and 121 departing flights were cancelled and a total of 44 inbound flights were diverted to neighbouring airports following the incident involving EK 521 at Dubai International at 1245hrs UAE local time on Wednesday.
The disruption of normal operations on Wednesday affected a total of 19,000 passengers before DXB resumed operations under restricted capacity at 1830hrs. DXB continues to operate with one runway with higher priority for arriving flights and wide-bodied aircraft to maximise the utilisation of available capacity and ease congestion inside the terminals. The airport is expected to be on recovery mode for the next 48 hours with efforts in full swing to clear backlogged flights.
Emirates airline statement
Of the 282 passengers on the flight EK521, 157 disembarked in Dubai and left the airport yesterday afternoon. 107 passengers opted to continue on their journeys and remained airside where they were provided with refreshments, rest areas, and other necessities, while Emirates rebooks them on the next possible flights. 13 passengers opted to stay a few days in Dubai before continuing on their journeys and Emirates has provided them with hotel accommodation and dedicated support. 5 passengers were brought to local hospitals with minor injuries, and we have dedicated a staff liaison supporting their requirements. We will continue to extend all possible care to our affected customers.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, has met with the crew members of the flight, who are all safe and accounted for. One cabin crew member was hospitalised on Wednesday, but is in good condition and will be discharged from a local hospital today. Emirates has activated dedicated support for its crew community.
The Boeing aircraft was delivered to Emirates in March 2003. Both the Captain and the First Officer have over seven thousand hours of flying experience each. Emirates is fully collaborating with local authorities to determine the cause of the incident.
Flight disruptions expected for the next 36 hours
Due to this incident, Dubai International Airport was closed for about six hours on 3rd August and a number of flights were cancelled, delayed or diverted. Dubai International Airport gradually started to resume operations at approximately 1830hrs local time on Wednesday night.
Emirates: If your flight has been cancelled, please visit https://t.co/12MfhusMJ1— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) August 4, 2016
Emirates cancelled 27 flights on Wednesday, and there were delays and rescheduled flights across the network. 23 flights were diverted to alternative airports - Sharjah, Al Maktoum International (DWC), Fujairah, Al Ain, Muscat and Bahrain. In total, over 23,000 Emirates passengers were impacted by the disruption. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to our affected passengers, and ask for their continued understanding and patience as our teams work to restore operations back to normal.
Passengers holding tickets purchased on or before 3rd August 2016 can rebook or cancel their bookings at no charge. For more information on flights or rebookings, visit www.emirates.com or contact the local Emirates sales offices.
Four blue collar workers going to Chittagong, Bangladesh, by Biman Air have been stranded at Dubai airport Terminal one. Rabikul Islam, Noor Ul Amin, Suraj Ul Karim and Mohamnad Shahbuddin were flying out on August 4 on their annual holiday. “We spent last night here as we were told our flight would leave on Thursday morning. Now they say it will leave on Friday morning at 3 am. Our company bus dropped us and we cannot afford to go back to our quarters and come back so we are camping here," said Siraj Ul Karum speaking on behalf of his friends. The four friends take turns to sleep as they have too much luggage. “We just sit by our luggage and nod off to sleep for some time. I just hope we will be able to leave soon,” said Noor Ul Amin.
My visa expires on August 6th and the airline has issued a new ticket for Saturday
Riyaz Ahmed from Multan, Pakistan, is stranded since August 3 as his flight was cancelled and a new ticket issued for Saturday. “I came here to look for work on a visit visa and I have no place to go . First they told us my flight to Bhawalpur Central by Shaheen Air would leave on 4th. But it got cancelled . My visa expires on August 6th and the airline has issued a new ticket for Saturday, August 6th. I am living at the airport, rationing out my meager funds and sleeping on chairs. Hopefully I will go home on August 6th,” he said.
'My wife's flight was diverted to Oman'
Many flight arrivals and departures at Dubai airport Terminal 1 are either cancelled or delayed as passengers thronged both the lounges with luggage.
Laurel , Rachel and Bang who had taken a flight from Manila to Delhi and connecting Jet Airways flight to Dubai were stuck for nine hours at the Delhi airport. "Finally we arrived at Abu Dhabi and the shuttle dropped us to Dubai airport. We are waiting for friends to pick us up. We are exhausted," said Rachael.
Kalpana Bhargava's mother was to arrive from Chennai by Indigo 6E 045 on Thursday but her flight was rescheduled. "I got a cancellation text message from Indigo at 3am in the morning just hours before boarding was to start. Thankfully they changed the flight at no extra cost and she will now arrive on Friday."
Alex Kampaundi arrived at 5am to pick up his wife Esnar who was to arrive from Malawi by Ethiopian airways. "I had not called the airport and have been waiting from 5am. My wife's flight was diverted to Oman and has just arrived at 10.15 am. I am waiting."
Jagal Paulose, a Dubai-based engineer who had to go to Saudi Arabia on an assignment, looked hassled as he has been running from one terminal to another to somehow get on a flight to Saudi Arabia. "I was booked on an early morning flight from Terminal 2 but upon arrival there I learnt that the flight has been cancelled, so I made a booking through Saudia airline from Terminal 2. The booking was open then however upon arrival here I have learnt that this flight stands cancelled too. I have to go so I have rebooked on a late night flight . Hopefully I will be able to leave by then."
Clara A, who was to travel by Naha Air to Tehran, was waiting at a coffee shop as boarding for the flight had yet to begin. "We are supposed to fly by 2pm but there are such long queues for check in for previously cancelled flights that I don't think I will be able to reach Tehran today."
Sam J, who was to fly by Qatar Airways to London Heathrow on Wednesday, had her flight cancelled. "Today I have checked in a few, will board by 12 noon. So far we have no intimation of further delay so I am hoping I will fly out."
In the meanwhile, an airport maintenance person and an executive from DNATA both confirmed that one runway was damaged and only one was open that is why the airports were having a huge backlog of flights to clear. "T1, 2 and three share the same flight path and runway so naturally all the flights leaving from these terminals are affected. We hope to resume a degree of normalcy by Friday," said the executive.
In the meanwhile, all restaurants and coffee shops reported brisk business. A waitress at one of the airport coffee shops told Gulf News: "My colleague and I had to do double shifts from last evening . We are yet to go home and have been here from 4 pm Wednesday. I know other coffee shop attendants who are my friends reported the same."
By Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Senior Reporter
Dubai airports statement
Dubai International resumed operations at 1830 hours UAE local time on Wednesday under restricted capacity and has since continued to operate with one runway, while maximising the use of the runway at Dubai World Central.
Operational teams across the terminals at DXB and DWC are doing their best to assist arriving and departing passengers. To ensure the comfort of passengers waiting for their flights, all food outlets across DXB and DWC are providing free refreshments and water, while free unlimited Wi-Fi has been made available at Dubai International to enable passengers to stay in touch with their family and friends.
Passengers line up inside Terminal 1 to catch their flights on Thursday morning. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Dubai Airports is working with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (immigration) and Dubai Police to assist passengers with issues relating to visa expiry and lost passports. Additional shuttle buses have also been deployed to ease the movement of passengers between the terminals. Due to reduced capacity we are having to prioritise arriving and departing flights to make the best use of available runway to clear the backlog.
Dubai Airports apologises to all our passengers for the inconvenience resulting from the disruption and would like to assure them that we are doing everything in our capacity to ease their journey. To avoid inconvenience Dubai Airports urges passengers flying out of DXB or DWC to check with their airlines for updated flight times before leaving for the airport.
IndiGo cancels all flights to Dubai on August 4
Due to unavailability of runway at Dubai airport, all IndiGo flights operating to and from India stands cancelled for August 4, 2016. From August 05 till 0730 IST August 07, 2016 - limited flights will be allowed to operate from Dubai airport. All IndiGo passengers are requested to check their respective flight status via customer relations. "We have already notified passengers via web chat, sms, and through other channels. Our call center representatives are available 24x7 to address customer queries.
We express our deepest regret over the incident that occurred at the Dubai airport on Wednesday and stand in support of our people representing the aviation fraternity.
Flydubai is cancelling 30 flights
Flydubai is cancelling 30 flights to and from Dubai International today (August 4) and warning of delays across its network following the incident on Wednesday at the airport where an Emirates aircraft caught fire on the runway.
In a post on its Facebook page, the airline said it was “working hard to minimise the disruption” but that “today, there will continue to be delays and cancellations.”
See below for a full list of cancelled flydubai flights:
FZ053/FZ054 Dubai(DXB)-Kuwait (KWI)-Dubai(DXB)
Check with your airline
Check with your airline before heading to the airport, that’s what operator Dubai Airports is telling passengers. Delays and cancellations are expected today as Dubai International returns to normal operations after what is possibly the worst incident to have occurred at the airport involving an aircraft. Passengers have described the scenes in Terminal 1, which is for nearly all non-Emirates and flydubai flights, as chaotic. Passengers have told Gulf News of flights being cancelled and others have said they’re being transferred to Abu Dhabi International by bus.
Departure signboard at the Terminal 1 as shown on Thursday morning. Suchitra Vajpayee Choudhary/Gulf News
To avoid inconvenience we urge all passengers to check with their airlines for latest flight updates before leaving for the airport.— Dubai Airports (@DubaiAirports) August 4, 2016
On Wednesday, Emirates cancelled around 42 flights and flydubai cancelled 98 after Emirates flight EK521 caught fire on the runway.
What happened on Wednesday at Dubai airport?
Emirates flight EK521 from India made an emergency landing at Dubai International on Wednesday, according to the General Civil Aviation Authority. The aircraft with 300 people on board was involved in what Emirates is describing as an “incident” at 12:45 pm local time. Footage shows the Boeing 777-300 aircraft sliding down the runway on its belly, billowing thick smoke into the air before catching fire. All 300 people, 282 passengers and 18 crew, safely escaped the aircraft. There was one death, a firefighter who was tackling the blaze, and 13 injuries, according to the authorities.
The aircraft was destroyed by the fire and it is the first time Emirates has lost an aircraft in its 31-year history. Photographs that were taken after the fire was extinguished show that the roof of the aircraft was completely burnt out.
Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum said at a press conference in Dubai late on Wednesday that the pilots may have tried to abort their initial landing attempt due to wind shear, which is a sudden change in wind direction. Both pilots each have over seven thousand hours of flying time experience, according to Shaikh Ahmad, and the aircraft was delivered to the airline in March 2003.
Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Staff Reporter