Emirates has apologised to customers for the airline’s “far from perfect” response to the flooding crisis at Dubai Airport which left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded after almost 400 flights were cancelled. 

In an open letter to customers, Emirates president Tim Clark said that despite it being “all hands on deck” for the company’s employees, the extreme rainfall seen in the United Arab Emirates last week, the heaviest in 75 years, had challenged the company. 

He wrote: “We know our response has been far from perfect. We acknowledge and understand the frustration of our customers due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals. 

“We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable. We take our commitment to our customers very seriously, and we have taken learnings from the last few days to make things right and improve our processes.” 

The heavy flooding at Dubai International Airport (DXB) on 16 April saw operations suspended and flights diverted, cancelled or delayed for days, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers, with Emirates alone cancelling flights for 200,000 people before flights resumed as normal on Saturday 20 April. 

Clark revealed that the airline had already had to organise 12,000 hotel rooms for stranded passengers and sent out 250,000 meal vouchers for those who had been stuck in the airport waiting for flights to depart. 

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Additionally, while the company has resumed its normal flight schedule again, Clark said that it expects it to take a few days to clear the backlog of rebooked passengers and deliver the 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage. 

The Emirates chief’s apology comes after many passengers complained on social media and in the press about their treatment by the airline during the disruption with many alleging delays lasting multiple days and a lack of communication from the airline. 

Complaints have also continued following the publication of the letter, with the airline’s support account on X, formerly Twitter, receiving hundreds of replies from customers highlighting their individual concerns. 

As a result of the disruption, DXB’s parent company Dubai Airports has also acknowledged the “frustrating cancellations” and had been urging passengers to only visit the airport if they had confirmation of a flight departure time or if “absolutely necessary”.