DUBAI // Flydubai cancelled its flight to Beirut this morning without warning for "operational reasons", forcing many passengers on to a later flight; that, too, was delayed with a similar explanation. The original flight had been scheduled to leave from Dubai International Airport's Terminal 2 at 10.30am. "All passengers on the flight have been offered a new reservation," a flydubai official said.
"Some of them have been transferred to the evening flight, and other passengers have been given another date to travel on." The evening flight, scheduled to leave at 7.40pm, was expected to be delayed until 12.40am this morning. "This flight was also delayed for operational reasons," the official said, adding only that there might be a clash in the flight schedule at either the Dubai or Beirut airport.
This is the first serious mishap on the airline's Beirut route, said to be one of its most popular. Because of the increase in travellers expected to fly to Lebanon during the summer months, flydubai had scheduled two daily flights to Beirut between mid-July and mid-August. According to an aviation expert at the General Civil Aviation Authority, "operational" problems that result in delays could be due to any of a number of factors. Each airline operator could have between 20 and 60 "types" of problems, he said.
"These types of delays could mean the weather, late arrival, late departure, missing of allotted slot time," said the official. "If the problem is technical or attributed to something like the weather, something that is not recurrent, then it is considered acceptable. "Once a slot time has been missed, especially with very congested airports, another slot time has to be requested, which can have a snowballing effect and create delays," he said. "This may take up to a couple of days to rectify."
He did say, however, that cancelled flights were usually attributed to something major, such as technical issues or engine problems. Flydubai gave no specific reason for yesterday's cancellation or the later delay. Flydubai, the UAE's first budget airline, has been operating since June 1. Earlier this month, it postponed the introduction of three new routes to India, citing "operational reasons".