Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Jaqueline Wood, left, and Tara Roe Gammon embrace after returning to Heathrow from Costa Rica via Madrid yesterday.
PAUL HACKETT
Jaqueline Wood, left, and Tara Roe Gammon embrace after returning to Heathrow from Costa Rica via Madrid yesterday.

At last, the great escape

Emirates and Etihad mount unprecedented airport operation to clear the backlog of some 12,000 stranded passengers.

As European skies once again filled with planes, the UAE's carriers flew thousands of people home yesterday from their extended, unexpected stays in the country. Both Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline put on extra flights to clear the backlog of some 12,000 stranded passengers. Etihad said that by evening it had flown 31 flights to and from Europe, and was on schedule to clear its backlog of 2,500 passengers stranded in the UAE by today.

Richard Hill, Etihad's chief operating officer, said it was on course to resume its normal operations by the end of today. Emirates, meanwhile, said it had flown 9,000 passengers back to Europe, leaving just 350 to clear. Both airlines said they were not accepting new bookings to Europe. Other carriers were also beginning to clear their backlog of passengers. "We are investigating all possibilities to accommodate as many passengers as possible," said Lauren Cooper, a representative for British Airways.

Meanwhile, the airline industry was counting the cost of the six-day, near-total stoppage of air traffic in Europe, the result of a massive cloud of ash spewed out by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. "Lost revenues now total more than $1.7 billion for airlines alone," said Giovanni Bisignani, the director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association. "At the worst, the crisis impacted 29 per cent of global aviation and affected 1.2 million passengers a day. The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11, when US airspace was closed for three days."

For Etihad alone, Mr Hill said the expense of accommodating and feeding stranded passengers, as well as all the lost revenue, had cost the airline in excess of US$5 million (Dh18m) a day. After initial scenes of chaos in Dubai and airports across Europe, the mood turned to jubilation as stranded passengers were reunited with their friends and families. newsdesk@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Rolling out the structure for the set. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert

After more than a week of speculation, The National has what are believed to be the first photos of a Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 The year-long project aims to create a form of social autobiography — the story of Dubai documented by those who know it best, the people who live there.

Zoom in! This is your Dubai in a single image

On our sixth birthday, we are all about pictures. So here is our #mydubai offering. Using zoom.it, explore the city.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.

 This Dh17,000 Miele system can prepare your choice of coffee - from capuccino to espresso - at a touch of a button. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Miele puts art in coffee making

Miele has devoted itself to the art of preparing the black liquid with its beautifully designed coffee machines, living up to its mantra of turning kitchens into cafés.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National