PIA suspends flights to Dubai, Sharjah as heavy rains return to UAE

Published May 2, 2024
Thick clouds fill the sky above the Burj Al-Arab tower in Dubai on May 2 as heavy rains returned to the United Arab Emirates. — AFP
Thick clouds fill the sky above the Burj Al-Arab tower in Dubai on May 2 as heavy rains returned to the United Arab Emirates. — AFP

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Thursday announced that flight operations to Dubai and Sharjah would remain suspended due to the return of severe weather conditions that lashed the United Arab Emirates last month.

Schools and many offices were closed across the UAE as heavy rains returned just two weeks after record downpours that experts linked to climate change.

A lightning storm with high winds swept across the oil-rich monarchy overnight, with more than 50 millimetres of rain falling before 8am in some areas, the National Centre of Meteorology said. Flooding was seen in some parts of Dubai and the city’s airport.

The airport, the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic, cancelled 13 flights and diverted five, a spokesperson said.

A statement from the PIA spokesperson said that flight operations for Dubai and Sharjah were “severely affected” due to the rains, adding that flights of the national carrier and other airlines would “remain suspended for the time being”.

It said that some PIA flights were facing delays and cancellations due to the bad weather.

“PIA is very conscious of its troubling its passengers. PIA will renew its air operations immediately as soon as the situation improves.”

Meanwhile, UAE state carrier Emirates and sister airline flydubai both warned passengers of delays, as schools switched to remote learning and public-sector offices closed.

But the rains were not on the scale of April 16, when a record 259.5 mm of rain left four people dead, blocked major roads for days and forced the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights.

Little traffic was seen on Dubai’s normally heaving, six-lane highways today and cars were abandoned on flooded roads near the sprawling Ibn Battuta Mall.

Trucks pumping water were stationed in several flooded areas, as Dubai’s drainage is unable to cope with large-scale rainfall.

Last month’s downpour, which also killed 21 people in neighbouring Oman, was the heaviest in the UAE since records began in 1949.

World Weather Attribution, a network of scientists that assesses the role of climate change in extreme weather events, found the deluge was “most likely” exacerbated by global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

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