Dubai: Heaviest rains on record cost Emirates ‘a lot’, says airline chief

The record-breaking rains disrupted flight operations and caused the cancellation of over 2,000 flights


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 7 May 2024, 5:44 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 May 2024, 10:11 PM

The unprecedented rains recorded in UAE last month cost the Emirates airline “a lot” and the airline was also “hit hard” on baggage handling operations, said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group.

“It (rains) cost us a lot at the end of the day. To see 200 millimetres of rain was really tough. We were used to disturbances across the globe in the US, Europe, and Australia and we managed it because it was in a different hub area. When it is your hub area, here in Dubai, to see aircraft coming back and not leaving with limited gates and parking (was a challenge) because aircraft usually come in and go. So we have had much less gates and parking,” he said during a media briefing on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market.

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The UAE recorded the highest rains in 75 years, resulting in disrupting of flight operations and the cancellation of over 2,000 flights due to the flooding of Dubai International Airport.

A record-breaking rainstorm in April was by far the “most disruptive weather event” in the 63-year history of Dubai International (DXB) airport with 2,155 flights cancelled, making it the highest number of cancellations yet, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told Khaleej Times in an earlier interview.

Baggage issue

Sheikh Ahmed said that delivering baggage to passengers in the wake of the record rains was a challenge for the airline.

“We have been hit hard on baggage, trying to push baggage with the passengers to the destinations they were flying to. It was really tough. It was not tough to identify those bags and send them to their destinations, but other airports were pushing us not to send more baggage, even though we were sending them to the people. It was beyond our control,” Emirates Airline chairman said.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said in a letter issued on April 20, a few days after the unprecedented rains, that scheduled flights had been restored. He also revealed that a task force had been set to sort, reconcile and deliver some 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage to owners.

Sheikh Ahmed said the airline put nearly 26,000 people in hotels in Dubai and outside who had booked prior to the rains.

“We did transfer a lot of people also in other flights besides Emirates just to get them to their destinations. For us all in the airline industry and Dubai, we learnt a lot from the unprecedented rains,” he said.


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