Dubai airport limits arriving flights amid storm backlog

April 19, 2024 - 5:53 PM
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People queue at a flight connection desk after a rainstorm hit Dubai, causing delays at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, April 17, 2024. (Reuters/Staff)

Dubai’s main airport said on Friday it is limiting the number of flights arriving for two days, as it continues to struggle to clear a backlog three days after a record storm swept the United Arab Emirates.

READ: Explainer: What caused the storm that brought Dubai to a standstill?

Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest, will limit arriving flights for 48 hours from noon local time (0800 GMT) on Friday, it said on X.

Dubai flagship carrier Emirates, one of the world’s biggest international airlines, earlier said check-in was suspended for all customers with onward connections through the city until 2359 GMT on Friday. Those travelling to Dubai as their final destination may check-in and travel as usual.

The moves highlight how the Middle East hub is still struggling to clear a backlog of flights after the UAE saw its heaviest rains in the 75 years records have been kept, bringing much of the country to a standstill for two days and causing significant damage.

In neighboring Abu Dhabi, which was also hit by the downpour on Tuesday, state carrier Etihad said flight operations are back to normal.

Thousands of passengers have been affected by flight cancellations this week, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told local radio station Dubai Eye on Friday, after the storm flooded taxiways.

Dubai Airports Chief Operating Officer Majed Al Joker said on Thursday that Dubai International Airport would resume normal operations within 24 hours and signaled a return to full capacity and regular schedule, state news agency WAM reported.

The storm, which hit neighboring Oman on Sunday, pounded the UAE on Tuesday, with 20 reported dead in Oman and one in the UAE.

The main road that connects the UAE‘s most populous emirate Dubai with Abu Dhabi remains partially closed, while an alternative route into Dubai requires vehicles to use a road that is entirely covered in floodwater where cars and buses have been abandoned.

In the UAE‘s north, including in the emirate of Sharjah, people were reportedly still trapped in their homes, while others there said there had been extensive damage to businesses.

Rains are rare in the UAE and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, which is typically known for its dry desert climate where summer air temperatures can soar above 50 degrees Celsius.

The UAE‘s National Center of Meteorology said on social media platform X that Monday may see light rainfall by late night and forecast “a chance of light to moderate rainfall, might be heavy at times over some areas” for Tuesday, with a fall in temperatures over some coastal areas.

— Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Clauda Tanios and Federico Maccioni; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Christian Schmollinger, Kirsten Donovan and Sharon Singleton