Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Second summer of chaos on BA flights between London and Abu Dhabi

Passengers complain they have been left out of pocket after 30 flights axed in recent weeks

The direct BA route between Abu Dhabi and Heathrow was also hit by cancellations last year. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
The direct BA route between Abu Dhabi and Heathrow was also hit by cancellations last year. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

British Airways customers travelling between Abu Dhabi and London are enduring a second summer of disruption.

Thirty direct flights between the UK and UAE capital have been cancelled by the UK airline over June and July, with officials blaming maintenance requirements for its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Customers have been left unhappy at the changes, with many complaining of flights being cancelled at short notice or being left out of pocket after they were rerouted to Dubai and told to pay to get to or from Abu Dhabi themselves.

It follows similar upheaval on the route last year, when several direct flights were cancelled over Ramadan.

Angry passengers have contacted the airline to complain. One unhappy traveller wrote on Twitter: "What a bad experience never again will I make the same mistake, flying with BA... flight cancelled they said you've got to fly from Dubai instead of Abu Dhabi... I said I don't mind if BA are going to provide transport or cover the charge of the taxi."

Last month, 18 direct flights between the UAE and UK were cancelled by British Airways. The Heathrow to Abu Dhabi trip and Abu Dhabi to Heathrow flight were each cancelled on nine occasions.

It emerged last week that disruption would continue into this month, with 12 more flights - six in each direction - axed between July 2 and July 9.

When the cancellations were processed, customers had the choice of a reroute or a refund, however any consequential costs, such as onward travel or booking a more expensive option with an alternative provider at short notice, are not routinely covered.

One passenger who recently had his BA return flight to Abu Dhabi from London cancelled, told how the airline flew him to Dubai instead.

But staff then refused to pay for his Dh350 onward taxi journey to get back to the UAE capital.

Only after pushing his case, did the airline eventually agree to refund the money.

“British Airways cancelled my return flight without much warning and, initially, without any explanation," the passenger said.

“Then they refused to pay for my taxi from Dubai to Abu Dhabi which I found completely unreasonable.

“Had I not kicked up a fuss they’d have never paid for the cab. I found their overall service really poor.”

The cancelled flights occurred due to required maintenance on the Rolls-Royce engines in the BA fleet of Boeing 787s, BA has said. The issue is not expected to be fully resolved until 2020, according to the website, London Air Travel.

Earlier this year, the airline also cancelled all flights from London to Doha, Qatar, during May 10 to 27 as well as some flights to New Delhi and Mumbai in India during May and June.

A spokesman for British Airways said: “Like a number of airlines around the world, we are carrying out detailed precautionary inspections on Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines which are fitted to our Boeing 787s, as part of the engine manufacturer's long-term maintenance and service programme.

"To facilitate the engine inspections and any associated maintenance we have had to make some minor schedule adjustments to our schedule and are rebooking customers onto alternative services or offering them a refund.

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we would never operate an aircraft unless it was safe to do so."

Etihad Airways have continued to offer direct flights between London and Abu Dhabi over the period.

Updated: July 3, 2019 08:37 PM