Etihad apologises to stranded passengers after diversions

Airline says it is operating extra flights, has drafted in more staff to help clear passenger backlog
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 07 Mar 2014 02:29 AM

Etihad Airways has apologised to all passengers who were left stranded after a number of flights were forced to divert away from Abu Dhabi International Airport on Thursday.

Etihad said in a statement on Friday that it is operating extra flights to help clear the backlog of passengers affected by Thursday’s runway closure during dense fog at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The airline added that it has also drafted hundreds of extra staff across its network to assist passengers whose travel plans were impacted due to the failure of the airport’s runway landing systems. About 6,600 passengers were affected in total.

Flights to destinations across the Middle East, Indian Sub-Continent and Western Europe have already departed as the flight schedule gradually returns to normal.

Passengers are advised to expect ongoing delays as a result of the large number of flights and passengers affected.

"Yesterday’s circumstances were beyond our control. We are doing everything we can to minimise the disruption and apologise to all passengers who continue to be affected," the airline said in the statement, adding that in Abu Dhabi it is providing accommodation for more than 1,000 guests who missed their onward connections.

It said more than 30 flights were diverted, with 14 of those landing at Al Ain Airport which serves as a technical diversion airport only and has limited customs clearance or immigration facilities.

"As a result, transit passengers or those without visas for the UAE were unable to disembark," Etihad said in the statement.

"The situation... was further compounded by the limited catering facilities at the airport. As a result, we were not able to provide the level of care and service we would normally hope to deliver," Etihad added.

"We are doing everything to rectify this unfortunate situation and assisting passengers to minimise the inconvenience resulting from the disruption to their flights. Passengers are being assisted with onward connections or hotel accommodation in the case of long connections."

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