Passengers hoping to be able to return to Europe arrived at Dubai International Airport in large numbers today - only to be left disappointed. Hundreds of stranded passengers lined up in Terminal Three from early morning to see if they could be one of the first to take off for Europe and the UK. However, only a handful of planes have been able to reach the emirates, meaning there were hardly any return flights to Europe. Planes that had been scheduled to leave Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, among other countries, have not arrived and appear unlikely to do so today. "Luckily we've had family and friends in Dubai who have put us up," said Kate Andrews, 36, from the UK. She flew from Singapore on Thursday into Dubai to connect to the UK. "When we landed we were told we couldn't fly any further and they gave us one night in a hotel. After that we stayed with family living here.
"It could have been a lot worse and it has been very expensive. I wouldn't like to estimate how much I've spent and I was on my way back from my holidays so I didn't have much money left," she added. Simon Earnshaw, 33, was trying to get back to the UK in time with Emirates to be with his wife who will give birth within the next few days. "I have an open ticket and hoped to fly back last Thursday. It's been a long tense wait but hopefully I can get a flight to somewhere in the UK and I can work my way home," he added. Abu Dhabi's airport also suffered cancellations and, unlike Dubai, was relatively quiet with few people arriving in the hope of boarding planes. Some passengers were able to make it back to the UAE, however.
A specially arranged KLM flight left Amsterdam last night and landed in Dubai early this morning. It was the first to do so from central Europe since the volcano crisis began last week. KL 429, a Boeing 747 carrying 275 passengers, landed in a near deserted Terminal 1 at 4.36am, with only a handful of people and several limousine drivers with name cards waiting outside the arrivals gate. One passenger, Emad Saher, a Jordanian businessman who had been stranded in Amsterdam since last week, was overjoyed to return to his home in Dubai. "I was only meant to stay for two days and then all this happened and I was stuck, it has been very frustrating not knowing exactly when you can come home, and it it was quite costly too as I was paying for my accommodation," said Mr Saher.
The Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said 20 per cent of the airline's fleet is grounded in Dubai as further flights to Europe have been cancelled as a result of the ash cloud from the volcano in Iceland. "All the German flights that were going off this morning have had to be rerouted to Vienna and Zurich," Mr Clark said. Flights to Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf were diverted to Vienna or Zurich. Mr Clark said Emirates, was trying to get passengers as close as possible to their final destination. But, he added, the airline would not look to recoup financial losses by raising prices when the situation returns to normal.
Flight disruption, now in its sixth day, has cost the airline about $66 million (Dh242m). Mr Clark said an A380 scheduled for Gatwick this afternoon was unlikely to leave as the airport would probably be closed, but flights to France, Switzerland and Italy would go ahead. He also said flights to Italy may be grounded tomorrow as the dust cloud moves. firstname.lastname@example.org