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Passengers stranded in Dubai amid Europe airport closures

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By Karen Leigh
Passengers at Dubai International Airport have been left stranded after Emirates Airline cancelled its flights to Heathrow and Gatwick following blizzard weather conditions in the UK.

Airlines across Europe have been hit by delays as the continent faces severe weather conditions. (AFP/Getty Images)
Airlines across Europe have been hit by delays as the continent faces severe weather conditions. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Dubai-based carrier has announced that it will not be accepting passengers for travel to Heathrow for the next 24 hours – until roughly midday on Monday, UAE time. dubai airport

Emirates also said that it would not operate any services from Heathrow.

“Emirates’ flights to and from other European destinations are operating as close to schedule as possible, but are dependent on the constantly changing weather conditions,” an airline spokesperson said, in a company statement.

“Emirates customers due to travel to or from Europe are advised to check the status of their flight on the Emirates website for possible changes or delays, before departing for the airport. Flight information will be updated on the website every five minutes. Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused.”

However, passengers said the Dubai airline had failed to properly inform them of the cancellations.

“I rang Emirates five times this morning to tell them that Heathrow was closed, but was assured otherwise. I get here and it’s cancelled,” said James Westcott, in transit from Kabul, where he heads Afghan airport operations.

“They just need to check SITA for cancellations and the fact that they can’t check is ridiculous,” said Westcott, a former manager at Heathrow International Airport.

He was in a queue for help that included Oliver Grogan, the Irish ambassador to Tehran, and his wife Elaine.

The ambassador said they were still hoping to fly from Dubai on Sunday.

“If they can get us to Dublin via Frankfurt, that would be fine,” he said. “We’re just trying to get home for Christmas.”

He said he would likely stay in a hotel overnight, unless the airline could make other arrangements.

London Heathrow will only manage a handful of departures, and has announced that there will be no arrivals at the UK’s biggest airport throughout Sunday.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways confirmed on Sunday it has delayed all flights to London Heathrow until further notice. Its early morning flight to London, EY11, was returned to Abu Dhabi following the closure of London Heathrow.

Elsewhere, operations at Paris’ Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Frankfurt airports have all been affected with airlines warning of ongoing delays.

Aisha Shariff, a student at Middlesex University in the UK, was returning to the UK after visiting her father in Dubai.

“The airline’s not offering to reschedule, they’re just telling us to go home,” she said. “I’m really frustrated.”

She, like Westcott, had been forced to do her own research.

“We found flights to Manchester as an available option, but they never mentioned that,” she said.

One terminal over, there was less chaos – with just one Heathrow flight on the board for the afternoon, British Airways had rebooked London perfume executive Martin Trout and his coworker on a Qatar Airways flight departing Monday morning.

Trout said one more night in a hotel was no big deal.

“We’ve been in the region on business so we have our hotel still,” he said. “It’s fine… as long as we get our confirmation from Qatar.”

Yesterday, Etihad Airways’ flights to London were diverted to Manchester and Frankfurt, and flights from London were delayed until further notice.

The airline said that its EY11 schedule to London today was delayed by four hours overnight, and that the EY12 return to Abu Dhabi was expected to be delayed by 2.5 hours.

However, German flag-carrier Lufthansa said that although there were “massive cancellations” for domestic and European flights into and out of its Frankfurt hub, its long-haul schedules remained unaffected.
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