Both Emirates and Etihad Airways have put on extra flights to clear passenger backlogs after London's Heathrow Airport reopened following a weekend of heavy snow and freezing weather.
Etihad and Emirates move to clear snow backlog
Emirates said it added three flights out of the UK, but did not disclose how many travellers were affected. Etihad flew hundreds of delayed passengers to Manchester in one of its largest aircraft on Sunday.
The delays proved costly as many Etihad passengers stranded in the UAE were put up in hotels on Yas Island at the airline's expense. Fifty airline staff volunteered to stay on the job and provide them with updates.
"Airlines deal with these challenges regularly and they can get very, very complex," said Chris Youlten, Etihad's vice president of airport and network operations.
"When you have a disruption with a high degree of variability it is really destabilising to our schedule and network operations."
The scene across the continent has been equally chaotic with hundreds of cancellations and delays at major hubs including Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. More severe weather has been forecast for Europe in the coming days and carriers have urged passengers to regularly check airline websites for flight details.
Some of Etihad's UK backlog was eased yesterday as Heathrow reopened. The airline estimated 2,000 passengers travelling into or out of London were affected by the closure.
The conditions caused Etihad to divert two flights bound for Heathrow from Abu Dhabi into Manchester and Frankfurt on Saturday. All three of the carrier's scheduled Sunday flights to Heathrow were unable to depart because of the airport closure.
Etihad flew around 400 passengers on a flight to Manchester using a Boeing 777, one of its largest aircraft, then bused those passengers down to London. The carrier said yesterday that normal service had been restored but warned it might not continue should the inclement weather return.