Dubai Airport recovers from flood of the century, resumes full-capacity operations

Dubai International Airport (DXB), the world’s busiest for international travel, is back to operating at full capacity, authorities announced a week after unprecedented torrential rains lashed the Arabian Peninsula and flooded many areas in the UAE.

Emirates fleet at Dubai airport
Aircraft parked at Dubai International Airport (DXB). Representative photo courtesy: Emirates

Early last week, tens of thousands of air passengers were stranded at the waterlogged Dubai International Airport. It was impossible to move from or towards the airport as roads turned into massive rivers due to the floods, the kind of which had not been seen in the UAE in almost a century.

“After the heaviest rainfall the UAE experienced in 75 years, Dubai Airports is making remarkable strides in restoring and normalising operations at Dubai International Airport (DXB),” a statement from Dubai Airports said.

Dubai Airports owns and manages the operation and development of both of Dubai’s airports — Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) aka Al Maktoum International Airport.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, yesterday said that since Monday, ahead of its recovery schedule, DXB had returned to its normal flight schedule and was back to operating around 1,400 flight movements a day.

With roads in and around the airport 100 per cent clear of water accumulation, our manpower, logistics and facilities are operating as usual again. To have the airport back up and running is no small feat. [A total of] 2,155 flights were cancelled and 115 were diverted.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports

“It has been the most challenging adverse weather event we’ve had to navigate, and our people and partners worked tirelessly to keep the operation running and to assist our guests,” Griffiths added.

He said that 31 flights were diverted to DWC, and by April 19, all guests at the airport were successfully supported and continued onwards to complete their travel plans.

“Guest welfare remained a key priority throughout the disruption and although there were initial challenges in transporting supplies with road closures around DXB and DWC, over 75,000 food packs were delivered across both airports,” the statement added.

Extremely heavy rainfall starting on April 15 (Monday) drenched Dubai and other parts of the UAE with 20 mm rainfall. It intensified through April 16 (Tuesday) and by the end of the day, it was over 140 mm in 24 hours, far more than the average yearly rains of 94.7 mm at the Dubai International Airport site.

Experts said that the rainfall Dubai received from April 15 to April 16 surpassed “anything documented since the start of data collection in 1949”.