x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Airlines clear passengers delayed by closures in England and Ireland

Airlines scrambled yesterday to clear a backlog of stranded passengers as European airports reopened after further disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano.

ABU DHABI // Airlines scrambled yesterday to clear a backlog of stranded passengers as European airports reopened after further disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano. Dublin, London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Amsterdam airports were operating as normal by lunchtime yesterday after the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano closed areas of British and Irish airspace on Sunday.

Passengers planning to fly on the Etihad Airways flights which were affected by closures were rescheduled to other flights yesterday and today. Etihad Airways cancelled flights from Abu Dhabi to Dublin and Manchester due to take off in the early hours of yesterday morning. Manchester passengers were put on a flight to Heathrow later in the day, with coaches laid on to reach their final destination.

The Dublin-bound flight was rescheduled and took off at 1.30pm, with any passengers who could not be accommodated booked on flights for today. A spokesman for Etihad said the airline expected flights to be running as normal today. In anticipation of the spread of the ash could, Emirates Airline cancelled two flights with departures early yesterday morning, a 2.30am flight to Heathrow and its 2.50am flight to Gatwick, but said its other flights were operating as normal yesterday.

Among the passengers briefly stuck were John and Catherine Stack, who arrived in Abu Dhabi from Sydney on an Etihad flight and were planing to fly on to Dublin. They said they were happy with the treatment they had received. "They didn't say anything when we landed about our connection," said Mr Stack. However, his wife added that "once we got off, there were people to meet us and they told us about the closure of Dublin airport."

Fintan O'Mahoney, 42, from Ireland, was also on the flight from Sydney. "They were very helpful when we landed and we got five-star treatment the whole way," he said. The unexpected stop on his business trip did not bother the IT consultant too much. "It is OK," he said. "It wasn't expected but it looks like this flight [yesterday] will take off." Niall Dunphy, a 27-year-old Irish electrician, was returning from a year of backpacking across Australia. "The hotel I stayed in was a lot better than what I was used to for the last few months travelling across Australia," he said.

eharnan@thenational.ae