Sir Tim Clark details efforts Emirates is making to recover from disruptions

Earlier in the week, the UAE saw the highest amount of rain it had ever received in 75 years, and the meteorology department has been monitoring the rains. The rains primarily affected Dubai, and I’m sure we’ve all seen images of the disruption to day-to-day life in the city ever since. The airport shut down for a bit and reopened, but it is still not out of the woods.

Dubai Airport and Emirates continue to see disruptions.

The Airport and Emirates have not been able to do a hard reset to make a complete recovery. I’m sure there is a plan in place from a disaster recovery perspective. Still, with Dubai’s stature as a transit hub for one of the world’s biggest airlines, the airport is built to flow people and keep them around for a couple of hours or three between their flights, not to have thousands of customers wait for days while they wait to be accommodated on the next available flight.

I’m sure we’ve seen images all over social media from Emirates customers who have been disrupted and frustrated. Here are some social media posts that I saw. As is expected, you’ll see people at the airport sleeping, complaints about food running out and long lines to get on the next available flight.

Sir Tim Clark writes an open letter detailing the Emirates’ efforts.

Today, Emirates published an open letter by Sir Tim Clark, Emirates’ President. The letter offers an apology to customers and addresses the scale of the issue, the Emirates’ response, and why the issues continue to exist. You can read the whole letter in the link above. But here are some interesting excerpts.

On Tuesday 16 April, the UAE experienced its highest rainfall in 75 years. Lashing storm winds and rain disrupted activity across the cities. Our 24/7 hub in Dubai remained open, with flight movements reduced for safety, but flooded roads impeded the ability of our customers, pilots, cabin crew, and airport employees to reach the airport, and also the movement of essential supplies like meals and other flight amenities.

We diverted dozens of flights to avoid the worst of the weather on Tuesday, and over the next 3 days we had to cancel nearly 400 flights and delay many more, as our hub operations remained challenged by staffing and supply shortages.

Emirates’ first response to the issue,

To free up resources and capacity to manage impacted customers as a priority, we had to suspend check-in for passengers departing Dubai, implement an embargo on ticket sales, and temporarily halt connecting passenger traffic from points across our network coming into Dubai.

We deployed additional resources to aid our airport and contact centre teams with rebooking and put on additional flights to destinations where we identified large numbers of displaced customers.

We sent over 100 employee volunteers to look after disrupted customers at Dubai Airport departures and in the transit area, prioritising medical cases, the elderly and other vulnerable travellers. To date, over 12,000 hotel rooms were secured to accommodate disrupted customers in Dubai, 250,000 meal vouchers have been issued, and more quantities of drinking water, blankets, and other amenities.

Behind the scenes,

Behind the scenes, it was all hands-on deck for thousands more employees across the organisation to get our operations back on track.

As of this morning, Saturday 20 April, our regular flight schedules have been restored. Passengers previously stranded in the airport transit area have been rebooked and are enroute to their destinations. We have put together a taskforce to sort, reconcile, and deliver some 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage to their owners.

Further, he asks for some more time to fix the chaos and the mess that the rains and its aftermath left behind. I’m sure once all of this is done, some form of compensation will also be offered, but the first part is to get people over to their destinations as soon as possible.


Emirates was greatly affected by the thunderstorms in Dubai on April 16, 2024. Emirates President Sir Tim Clark claims that the airline has been working to clear the backlog, and today, the full operating schedule of the airline has been restored. The airline halted ticket sales in the midst and is trying to get everyone on their way as soon as possible, apart from having their bags delivered to them. Further, he offers an apology from the airline for all the disruptions.

What do you think of Emirates’ response? Do you think they’ve done enough? Do share your experiences either way. 

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. This is a classic case of operating from a near perfect airport with minimal disruption from weather all year round. The end result is that for all the planning in the world, this would have been the airlines first ever operational meltdown. Staff would not know exactly what to do, from operations down to customer service. I would bet that for many Emirates and Dubai Airport staff, this would have been there first ever extreme IRROPs situation.

    It’s not the fault of the airline/airport as real life experience in dealing with these situations counts for far more than table top exercises, contingency/simulated exercises, etc.

    They will learn and put into practice changes but I fear that as the next operational meltdown will be years away, inadvertent complacency will creep back in.

  2. As I experienced 17 years back. Emirates and Dubai Airport are fine as long as everything is working like clockwork but one thing fails and the whole system falls apart. They are just not prepared or trained to manage 2007 I went through a 3 hour runway closure followed by a 6 hour queue at flight connections to get new boarding passes and another hour to get a hotel voucher. I can see nothing has changed. Compare that to KLM early this year which had new flights booked and displayed on the app, hotel and food vouchers printed out at self check machines after a major storm disruption and 350 Euros paid out for the inconvenience.

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