x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Heathrow flights resume for Etihad and Emirates

Emirates and Etihad have returned to operating normal schedules to Europe after a day of cancellations and delays caused by severe winter weather.

Etihad and Emirates have been able to resume flights to the UK following cancellations caused by severe weather.
Etihad and Emirates have been able to resume flights to the UK following cancellations caused by severe weather.

DUBAI // Stranded passengers have spoken of their relief as UAE airlines reinstated flights to the United Kingdom after a day of cancellations caused by severe weather.

Etihad Airways and Emirates airline said it was business as usual yesterday after temperatures reaching minus 10°C in London forced them to cancel six flights to and from Heathrow on Sunday.

Etihad, which cancelled an inbound and outbound service, said all passengers who had missed their flights had been placed on its two services yesterday, as Abu Dhabi International Airport reported all flights were operating to schedule.

Emirates, which had cancelled four flights to and from Heathrow, said it was back on schedule and Dubai International Airport said no further delays had been reported.

The news came as relief to stranded passengers who endured hours of waiting at the airport, hoping for an alternative flight.

Mathew Southwould, a disabled ex-servicemen, was among those affected.

The Briton, 42, had been visiting Dubai as a member of the Pilgrim Bandits skydiving team, a charity that raises funds for servicemen.

The delay was particularly difficult for the group, which includes amputees.“It was very frustrating because I had arranged to be picked up at Heathrow and driven to Plymouth when I arrived, but that all had to go out the window,” Mr Southwould said.

“British Airways had upgraded us to the first-class lounge because there is a group of us, and we have a few amputees in the group so mobility is a problem.”

Mr Southwould said he was frustrated at the lack of information provided to passengers on his original flight.

“We arrived on time and were then told the flight had been cancelled because of the bad weather,” he said. “But there was a lot of confusion and they didn’t let us take the luggage off the plane, so we had to stay in the departure lounge for about 12 hours.”

The group was eventually checked into the Dubai International Hotel about 7pm on Sunday and all of its members were booked on a 2pm Emirates flight to Heathrow yesterday.

Andrew Dernie, another British member of the group, said they were relieved to be going home and that they had been treated well by British Airways. “We were given a nice meal and got checked into a hotel,” he said.

The delays were caused when the British Airports Authority , the body in charge of Heathrow Airport, cancelled more than half of the 1,300 flights it operates daily as temperatures dropped to minus 10°C.

Yesterday, despite claiming services would be back to normal, 40 flights were cancelled because of the cold, fog and low visibility.

Passengers on Emirates and Etihad are advised to check the status of their flights at www.emirates.com or www.etihadairways.com

nhanif@thenational.ae