Cityscape Abu Dhabi hit by Euro flights chaos

Some top real estate execs get caught up in cancellations caused by Icelandic eruption.
Cityscape Abu Dhabi hit by Euro flights chaos
By Ed Attwood
Sun 18 Apr 2010 11:10 AM

Key real estate figures have been unable to make it to the Cityscape Abu Dhabi exhibition due to the continuing impact of the Icelandic volcano eruption on flights from Europe, Arabian Business has learned.

Top executives from Cluttons Middle East, Colliers International and Harrods Estates have been caught in the cancellation of thousands of flights to and from the UK and mainland Europe.

The stand for research company Proleads, which undertakes reports on the Middle East real estate and construction sectors, remained empty on Sunday, the first day of the property show. A sign on the stand explained that company representatives have been delayed by the flights chaos.

Cluttons Middle East told Arabian Business that its CEO Steve Morgan was stuck in London while Colliers International representative was stranded in France.

Emirates Airline said on Sunday it had cancelled its early morning flights to London Heathrow and Gatwick on Monday as the impact of the Icelandic ash cloud continues to cause misery for tens of thousands of passengers in the Gulf region.

Three flights to Heathrow and two to Gatwick have been grounded, the airline's website showed on Sunday. Morning flights to Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow have also been halted, as have early Monday services to Paris, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Zurich and Milan.

To Saturday, more than 40,000 Emirates passengers have been impacted by the closure of airspace in the UK and most of Europe and thousands are to be stranded with Sunday's UK schedule wiped out and the first cancellations announced for Monday.

Etihad said its UK and European flights were grounded "until further notice" while Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Gulf Air also suspended UK and European services on Sunday.

Britain has extended a ban on most flights in its airspace until at least 7pm (10pm UAE time) on Sunday, the National Air Traffic Service said.

The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) said only about 5,000 flights took place on Saturday in European airspace. On a normal Saturday, it would expect 22,000, it said in a statement.

"Emirates is working on a contingency plan to ensure that we get flights and passengers moving as quickly as possible once airspace reopens. However, like every carrier, we cannot activate contingency plans until we receive clearance from European Air Traffic Control authorities. Until this happens, we cannot give firm timescales," the spokesperson added.

All flights to London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow on Sunday have been grounded, the airline said.

Destinations in France and Germany and Switzerland have also been hit with services to Paris, Dusseldorf and Hamburg and Zurich cancelled on Sunday.

In a statement on Saturday, Emirates said it was currently only accepting passengers for flights to Moscow, Athens, Larnaca, Malta and Istanbul.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also said its services to the UK, Ireland and some European destinations had been cancelled "until further notice" while other Gulf-based airlines have also been impacted by the continuing ash cloud saga.

"Due to the spreading plume of volcanic ash and subsequent closure of airports in the UK and European region, Etihad Airways has cancelled all flights to the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe and Russian Federation until further notice," Etihad said on its website.

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