x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dubai newlywed on lost airliner

Consultant, 28, was on her way back from honeymoon in Brazil while her husband took a different flight.

Front page of the newspaper Extra in Rio de Janeiro reporting on the Air France passenger jet which disappeared on June 1 over the Atlantic.
Front page of the newspaper Extra in Rio de Janeiro reporting on the Air France passenger jet which disappeared on June 1 over the Atlantic.

A Dubai resident returning from her honeymoon is among the 228 people feared dead after an Air France aircraft disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean on Monday. Ana Negra Barrabeig, 28, originally from Barcelona, left Brazil for Paris on flight AF447, which went missing during a storm four hours after taking off.

Her husband of less than a month, Javier Alvarez, 38, was on a separate flight from Sao Paolo to Dubai that left shortly after hers. He learned of the disappearance of his wife's flight upon his arrival in the UAE. Debris thought to belong to the aircraft was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean by rescue teams yesterday, although hopes of finding survivors remain slim. Mr Alvarez worked alongside his wife at Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy in Dubai Media City, where she worked as an associate and he as a partner.

Ms Barrabeig studied at the ESADE business institute in Barcelona and is reported to have met Mr Alvarez in Dubai, where she moved two and a half years ago. The couple lived in Dubai Marina. Friends of the couple in Dubai said Mr Alvarez returned home to Spain yesterday afternoon. A spokesman for the Spanish embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed to Reuters yesterday that Ms Barrabeig was among the passengers on the flight.

The Spanish news agency RNE said yesterday that the couple married at the Raventos i Blanc vineyard in Catalonia, which is owned by members of Ms Barrabeig's family, on May 6 before leaving for a honeymoon in Brazil. Friends in Dubai said that, after their honeymoon, Ms Barrabeig was going to travel from Paris to Barcelona to spend a few days with her family before returning to the UAE. Mr Alvarez made his way back to the Emirates directly from Sao Paolo to return to work early.

He was met at Dubai International Airport by two friends and a medical team, who delivered the news. Those friends already had worked to secure him a ticket back to Spain. A spokesman for the Oliver Wyman office in Dubai said: "With deep sadness, we confirm that Ana Negra, a 28-year-old consultant in Oliver Wyman's Dubai office, was a passenger on Air France 447. We are, like everyone else who had friends, colleagues, and relatives on that flight, still trying to gather data and relevant information."

The Spanish community in Dubai expressed their shock at the news. One close friend of Ms Barrabeig said: "You have to understand, for all of us expatriates, our friends become our family." Ms Barrabeig's aunt, Isabel Negra, told RNE that her niece was overjoyed by her recent marriage. "She was a girl filled with life.She was enchanting and happy." She added that Ms Barrabeig's parents were "very sad" over the loss of their daughter.

"But we have to accept it, since it has happened to us," she said. "It happens to many people - and today it has happened to us. It is a terrible fate." Brazilian military planes spotted debris in the Atlantic yesterday that could be wreckage of the aircraft. Air force pilots saw metallic objects, plane seats, an orange buoy and jet fuel stains in the water about 650km north of the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha off Brazil's north-eastern coast.

Brazil's navy said a Dutch commercial ship was nearby and would arrive in the area late last night. Brazilian navy ships, one carrying a helicopter, were not expected to arrive in the area until today. The chances of finding survivors appeared close to nil, and authorities were treating the passenger list as a death toll. "The plan now is to focus our efforts to collect the debris and try to identify if they belong or not to the Air France plane," Jorge Amaral, a Brazilian air force colonel, told reporters in Brasilia.

A senior French minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said it was crucial to locate the flight recorders, called "black boxes", which are programmed to emit signals for up to 30 days.

psantos@thenational.ae * With additional reports from agencies