By Ed Attwood
Region’s expats left in limbo as carrier cuts flights from Dubai, Bahrain and Doha
The opening of Heathrow’s second runway may have resulted in a return to normal operations for Gulf carriers, but the cancellation of British Airways flights from the region has continued.
Two of the three British Airways flights from Dubai to Heathrow were cancelled on Wednesday, and the remaining flight has already departed.
Making matters worse, the British Airways website also states that two flights from Dubai will also be cancelled on Thursday, with only BA0104, which departs from the emirate at 1530 UAE time, leaving as normal.
The airline also appears to have cancelled BA0124 on Thursday, which was scheduled to depart from both Bahrain and Doha on the day before Christmas Eve. The following day’s flight has also been cancelled.
The airline is planning to offer a full schedule from Dubai on 24 December.
The cancellations are likely to heavily disrupt the plans of the Gulf’s expatriate community, many of whom are planning to return home at the end of the regional working week.
“I only found out because two of my friends were on the same flight and called me in a panic last night as they’d checked on line and it said it was cancelled,” said one Dubai-based expat.
“I doubled checked on line too and then I just immediately searched and booked another flight, pretty much at exactly the same time with Emirates but to Gatwick.
“It seems odd that Emirates are absolutely fine and have flights pretty much at the same time while British Airways is still a complete mess.”
The airline has worsened the confusion by allowing some passengers to check in for flights on the British Airways website, despite the fact that those flights had already been cancelled.
"I've got the boarding pass, and I could have gone to the airport," another Dubai-based Briton told Arabian Business. "But I've just rung the number to be told the flight is cancelled and they don't have any spare seats until Christmas Day".
A British Airways spokesperson said: "It takes some time to rebuild an operation of our size and complexity
at very short notice.
"We would urge all customers to keep checking the website until they leave for
the airport to see if their flight is still operating."
Emirates announced on Tuesday that it had resumed normal operations and that flights in and out of Europe were operating as close to schedule as possible.
However, the UK has warned that worse weather may be on the way.
The UK’s Met Office said that there was still a risk of 25cm of snow in some places through Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
“Wintry weather is expected to continue as Christmas approaches, with heavy snow in some areas potentially leading to further disruption to travel networks,” the agency said.
The national forecaster also said that temperatures in the country would start to rise back above freezing by around midday on Thursday.
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Another reason to avoid BA in the future. They are the worst of the worst! I just checked the Emirates website. There are still seats available over the next few days for Heathrow so anyone out there who still needs to be in the UK for the holidays better get booking!!
In each of the last three years I've taken a minimum of ten BA business return flights to London and New York (AED250,000 ish per year).
In the last 18 months there have been endless disruptions which BA could have taken steps to mitigate (the strikes being the obvious example). Despite the chaos, for some mad reason I've remained a loyal BA customer, BA's always been my preference and I've continued to book flights with BA. However, because of BA's incompetence, every single flight I have booked in the last 12 months has been cancelled or subject to such uncertainty that I've had to take EK instead (the latest example was that I was booked on the 0235 BA flight tonight which has, surprise, surprise, been cancelled and I'm now on 0310 EK which, surprise, surprise, hasn't).
EK is flying all 11 flights to London today and BA? None.
Pathetic. No more. This is the final straw. Yet another loyal customer who's "endless" patience has run out.
BA has been in steady decline for years. This is just a culmination of a long period of lack of investment, substandard service and plain bad management. I gave up in BA a couple of years ago, EK now provide a far superior service to the UK.
The same can be said for BAA who is also responsible for the mess Heathrow is in. Unless you live in the SE of Egland, who needs to travel through Heathrow anymore anyway?
I don't know why people still fly BA. Qatar, Ethihad and Emirates are leaps and bounds ahead of the curve compared to them. I sometimes think people fly BA through misguided loyalty or some sort of patriotism. One thing is for sure, they think commercial because they are commercial, they act commercial in their own interests and many times NOT in the interests of passengers...and given those facts maybe passengers should have the same mentallity. Look after yourselves and your own pocket.
If BA is broken, as it has proved many times...take off your rose tinted glasses and try Qatar, Ethihad or Emirates. They don't strike, their flight schedules are good, they reach almost every major destination and most of all...they're reliable. Pricewise, they are competitive.
Or...if you have to fly BA...don't fly around public holidays /festive season (Strikers mentallity to strike at these times) and don't fly in winter with them.
I haven't flown by BA for over a decade. Sod patriotism - when the national carrier is so bad on all levels, it deserves no support. My preferred routes to UK now from Dubai are Virgin if in a hurry or Air France if I've time for a couple of days stopover in Paris. Both airlines treat you intelligently and Virgin's Heathrow lounge is still a poster child for the industry! Emirates - good, but pricing never seems quite right.
That is why I always fly with Gulf based Airlines; I still cannot see why many people book European airlines for that travel knowing all that happened in the past year. Be it alone for the strikes that happen all the time, the onboard service which has declined, and the very bad behavior of European airlines during a crisis situation like the ash cloud by completely dumping customer. In all areas the Gulf airlines did much better. They have more spare cash to spend when there is crisis, and their base is not under European law, ensuring that airline strikes etc are not possible. I think the stability the Gulf airlines offer above the airlines operating under European labor law, is a huge advantage; still many people do not see this when they buy a ticketâ€¦.
Ed, I book European airlines if possible for a simple reason - EU passenger protection rules apply both ways. If you book on an airline based outside the EU, the protection only applies on the flight leaving the EU.
Very few countries outside the EU have passenger protection rules that come anywhere close to the EU ones, so you simply have to hope that the airline treats you decently.
I find uncanny similarities with Air India- our national carrier- strikes, mismanagement and poor service