Abu Dhabi: Around 300 passengers were stranded at Abu Dhabi Airport for over seven hours on Thursday as 13 flights were delayed, rescheduled or diverted to other UAE airports because of heavy fog, a senior airport official told Gulf News.

The rescheduling led to discomfort and complaints from passengers.

M. Nair missed his father's funeral in India but was left unattended, ignored and uninformed about his flight delay for over 12 hours. Nair, along with 300 other passengers, was stranded in a departure terminal due to a sudden fog reducing visibility to below 50 metres, from 0:10 to 07:45 yesterday.

"I have taken an emergency leave due to my fathers' death," said the angry passenger. "I didn't want to mention that and get personal, but when I learn that my flight has been rescheduled from a Gulf News reporter and not from the airlines itself, I have no choice but to blame it on mismanagement and inhumanity from the airline."

Flight IX348, flying to Kutch, was scheduled to depart Abu Dhabi airport at 00:45 on Thursday and was rescheduled to depart at 21:00 the next day. Flight IX348, flying to Kozhikode, was due to depart at 20:00 on Wednesday and was rescheduled to fly at 02:10 today.

Lakshmanan, manager of Air India and Air India Express in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, denied the allegations and told Gulf News that the airline had sent out a representative to inform the passengers of the delay.

Hotels booked up

"We gave the passengers a choice, either to re-fund them their ticket money or go back home and return the next day. I know that 70 to 80 passengers responded and did go home," said Lakshmanan, who also mentioned that he tried to find hotel accommodation for the passengers but was unsuccessful.

"Hotel occupancy is 100 per cent, we didn't find a single room," said the manager. "We barely found rooms for the crew members and decided to delay both flights because the crew members have the right to rest for ten hours."

A spokesperson from Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) added that ten other flights were diverted to Al Ain Airport, one flight through Muscat, one through Sharjah and one through Dubai Airport.

"Our role in ADAC is to work with the airlines to ensure the maximum amount of comfort to passengers who are delayed," said the official.

"All flights were functional from 7:45 am after low visibility was announced at 00:10. It's the airlines decision on what time they would like to re-schedule their flight," said the official.