Not over yet: Aftermath of Emirates plane crash
An Emirates Airline flight coming from India crash-landed and burst into flames at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday (August 3) killing one firefighter in an intense blaze and bringing the world’s busiest international airport to a halt for several hours.
All 300 passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the gutted Boeing 777-300 arriving from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of south Indian state of Kerala, after the crash at 12.45 p.m.
The Dubai carrier’s first significant accident happened after the crew apparently attempted to abort the landing for a second attempt amid unconfirmed witness reports of landing gear problems.
Photographs on social media showed a plane lying crumpled on the tarmac with black smoke pouring from its upper section, and later images showed a gap along the length of the charred fuselage where its roof had been.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) had suspended all arrivals and departures at Dubai International for nearly six hours after the incident. The airport resumed departure operations at 1830 hours and an hour later it commenced restricted arrival operations with priority given to larger aircraft.
The Operator Dubai Airports said a total of 116 arriving and 121 departing flights were cancelled and 44 inbound flights were diverted affecting a total of 19,000 passengers following EK521 incident.
On Thursday morning, Dubai Airports urged passengers check with their airlines for latest flight updates before leaving for the airport to avoid inconvenience.
Dubai Media Office said on Twitter: DXB resumed under restricted capacity & continued to operate with one runway, while maximising the use of the runway at DWC.”
It said later in the day that Dubai airport is expected to be on recovery mode for the next 48 hours with efforts in full swing to clear backlogged flights.
Several flights of Emirates and other airlines were diverted on Wednesday to Dubai World Central, Sharjah, Al Ain, Fujairah, Bahrain, Doha and Muscat airports. Some flights were turned round to their departure airports.
Sharjah Airport Authority had confirmed that a number of Emirates Airline flights were diverted to Sharjah International Airport and it said the airport was well prepared and equipped to handle extra arrivals to its daily quota to support Dubai’s flight operations.
Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Airport Authority, said the passengers were being tended to and transported to Dubai by buses.
Flights cancelled, delayed
Emirates cancelled more than 40 flights after its EK521 caught fire on the runway. The airline said it was doing everything it could to help passengers re-book flights. It was offering free refreshments and water to the passengers stranded at the airport.
“Emirates commercial passengers and Skywards members who had purchased tickets on or before 3rd August 2016 will have rebooking; re-issue; and cancellation charges waived,” it said in a statement.
“We continue to face flight disruptions today. We appreciate our customers’ continued understanding and patience,” it said on Twitter.
Dubai government-owned low-cost airline flydubai cancelled nearly 100 flights on Wednesday. “Due to the closure of Dubai International Airport (DXB), we have initially cancelled all flights to and from DXB until 22:00 (Dubai time),” the airline said on its Facebook page.
On Thursday it cancelled 20 flights and it warned that there will continue to be delays and cancellations.
Indian airline IndiGo said it has cancelled all flights operating to and from India on August 4 due to unavailability of runway at Dubai airport. It also said that from August 5-7 only limited flights will be allowed to operate from the airport.
A few other Indian carriers such as Air India Express and Jet Airways have also cancelled flight to and from Dubai due to the disruption in the airport.
The Emirates officials and the UAE’s aviation authorities have launched investigation to ascertain the cause of the incident.
The operator of the airport is yet reveal if they have assessed the financial implications of the disruption of services following the plane accident.
It is feared that the incident may have incurred a loss of more than $500 million to the airport.
Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times had quoted Michael Rudolph, head of aviation regulation and safety at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), in a report on June 12 as saying that “$1 million per minute – that’s what it cost the economy of Dubai”, while referring to a drone incursion into the airport in January last year which shut the operations for 55 minutes.
Response for a request to Dubai Airports for preliminary estimate of financial loss was not immediately available.
(With inputs from Reuters)