UAE rain causes travel chaos at Dubai Airport with runway flooded and aircraft backlog

International hub operates one-in-one-out policy for planes arriving and departing after unprecedented rainfall

Dubai airport floods after heavy rain in the UAE

Dubai airport floods after heavy rain in the UAE
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UAE weather live: Emirates hit by severe storms

Dubai International Airport is facing significant disruptions to operations after the UAE was hit by an unprecedented storm that saw the heaviest rainfall on record in the past 24 hours.

The major travel hub was forced to shut down operations for 25 minutes on Tuesday due to the adverse weather.

Roads leading to the airport remained blocked and flooded after the deluge.

Several passengers missed flights due to the flooding, while many airlines cancelled or diverted services.

The airport urged passengers not to travel to the airport unless “absolutely necessary” on Wednesday morning.

Chief executive Paul Griffiths said the hub's biggest challenge is flooding and backlog of aircraft.

“We're having to operate a strict one-in-one-out philosophy because there's nowhere to park these aircraft as they are arriving and departing,” he said on Dubai Eye on Wednesday.

Dubai World Central is facing similar challenges after flights from Dubai International were diverted there, he said.

“Some airlines are experiencing problems with crew duty hours and trying to get aircraft mobilised,” he added.

Mr Griffiths praised the efforts of emergency services and thanked Dubai's Road and Transports Authority for their help in getting operations back to normal.

“It remains an incredibly challenging time. In living memory, I don't think anyone has ever seen conditions like it,” he said.

“We are in uncharted territory, but I can assure everyone we are working as hard as we possibly can to make sure our customers and staff are looked after, and are given food and refreshments.”

Travel disruptions

Emirates airline on Wednesday morning announced that it had suspended check-in for passengers departing from Dubai until midnight.

“Passengers arriving in Dubai and already in transit will continue to be processed for their flights,” the airline said.

“Customers can expect delays to departures and arrivals and are advised to check the latest flight schedules.

“We sincerely apologise for the convenience caused.”

At least 20 flights due to depart from Dubai International – one of the world's busiest airports – were cancelled on Tuesday with dozens more delayed, affecting destinations including India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Passengers were urged not to travel to the airport unless necessary.

“Due to the unprecedented weather conditions in the UAE, Dubai International is advising passengers not to come to the airport, unless absolutely necessary,” an official said.

“Flights continue to be delayed and diverted. Please contact your airline for the latest information on your flight status.

“We are working hard to recover operations as quickly as possible in very challenging conditions.”

RTA announced a free shuttle bus service for passengers arriving at the airport.

There will also be a free service at specific stations along the Metro's Red and Green lines.

The authority announced earlier that it would be scheduling maintenance at stations, which would affect both metro schedules and stations.

On Wednesday, the authority said traffic on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road, heading to Sharjah, had been diverted to Dubai-Al Ain Road, leading to Emirates Road.

Aftermath of the heavy rains across the UAE – in pictures

Updated: April 23, 2024, 8:18 AM