UPDATE, 11AM: Etihad Airways is operating extra flights today to help clear the backlog of passengers affected by yesterday’s runway closure during dense fog at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The airline has also drafted hundreds of extra staff across its network to assist passengers whose travel plans were impacted due to the failure of the airport’s runway landing systems.
Flights to destinations across the Middle East, Indian Sub-Continent and Western Europe have already departed today as the flight schedule gradually returns to normal.
Passengers are advised to expect ongoing delays as a result of the large number of flights and passengers affected.
UPDATE, FRIDAY, 9AM: Etihad Airways advises passengers to expect delays as the flight schedule slowly returns to normal following the disruption yesterday.
It will take some time before the schedule is back to normal as a result of the large number of flights and passengers affected.
37 flights were diverted to other airports in the region and 42 flights were cancelled due to a technical failure of the runway landing systems at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
"Yesterday’s circumstances were beyond our control. We are doing everything we can to minimise the disruption and apologise to all passengers who continue to be affected," according to a statement released by the Abu Dhabi airline.
"In Abu Dhabi we are providing accommodation for more than a thousand guests who have missed their onward connections."
Passengers are advised to visit the Etihad Airways website at www.etihad.com or contact the Etihad Airways Contact Centre on +971 (0) 2599 0000 for more information on the status of flights in and out of Abu Dhabi Airport.
Etihad Airways apologises to guests affected by flight disruptions
Etihad Airways issues a statement apologising to passengers affected due to flight delays. "Etihad Airways would like to apologise to all passengers who were on board flights which had to divert to alternative airports across the GCC region on Thursday morning due to a technical failure of the runway landing systems at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
"More than 30 flights were diverted, with 14 of those landing at Al Ain Airport. This airport serves as a technical diversion airport only and has limited customs clearance or immigration facilities. As a result, transit passengers or those without visas for the UAE were unable to disembark.
"The situation, which was beyond our control, was further compounded by the limited catering facilities at the airport. As a result, we were not able to provide the level of care and service we would normally hope to deliver.
"We are doing everything to rectify this unfortunate situation and assisting passengers to minimise the inconvenience resulting from the disruption to their flights. Passengers are being assisted with onward connections or hotel accommodation in the case of long connections."
UPDATE AT 5.40PM, THURSDAY: All flights to Abu Dhabi this morning were diverted to other airports in the region due to a technical failure of the runway landing systems at the airport, Etihad Airways clarified in a statement.
The weather at Abu Dhabi has since improved and the airport has resumed limited operations.
The statement continued: "Of the 37 inbound flights diverted this morning to other airports in the GCC this morning, 27 have now returned to Abu Dhabi, with the rest expected to arrive into Abu Dhabi throughout the remainder of the afternoon.
"Departures from Abu Dhabi have resumed, however significant delays and a small number of cancellations are to be expected... However, Etihad Airways anticipates that normal operations at Abu Dhabi Airport will not resume for another 24 hours."
PREVIOUS UPDATE: In a statement, a spokesperson said: “As a result to the extreme low visibility conditions at Abu Dhabi International Airport this morning, 37 aircraft were diverted to other airports in the region due to the operational challenges posed by such weather.
“These flights were diverted as follows: 14 flights to Al Ain Airport, three to Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai and one to Al Bateen Airport, in addition to 10 flights diverted to Doha, six to Muscat, two to Dammam and one flight to Bahrain.”
The statement continued: “Currently, Abu Dhabi International Airport [has] resumed take-off and landing operations and all parties at the airport are working together towards minimising the disruption to all travellers.”
EARLIER UPDATE: An Etihad Airways spokesperson has stated the dense fog is currently lifting and weather is improving with the airport now accepting traffic; operations were suspended earlier due to a 'technical failure' at Abu Dhabi Airport.
Etihad stated 37 of its flights had to be diverted this morning.
In a statement, the airline said: “Five Etihad Airways flights have now landed at Abu Dhabi Airport, with three diverted flights now returning to Abu Dhabi.
“[A total of] 37 flights were diverted to Al Ain, Doha, Dammam, Bahrain, Muscat, Dubai World Central and Abu Dhabi Al Bateen Executive Airport.”
The statement continued: “Diverted flights will return to Abu Dhabi subject to ground servicing and the arrival of stand-by operating crews, who are currently being transferred by road and by air where possible.”
The airline warned that it anticipates normal operations at Abu Dhabi Airport will not resume for approximately 24 hours.
Abu Dhabi Airport confirmed the development in a statement, saying: “As a result of the extreme low visibility conditions at Abu Dhabi International Airport this morning, a number of aircraft were diverted to other airports in the region.”
The statement continued: “All parties at the airport are working together towards minimising the disruption to all travellers.”
Passengers travelling on all airlines are advised to contact their respective airline for flight updates or visit Abu Dhabi International Airport website for contact details and updates.
Earlier, Etihad had issued a statement alluding to the delay and diversion of flights in the capital, saying: “All flights into Abu Dhabi this morning are being diverted to other airports in the region due to a technical failure at the airport.
“Dense fog is currently being reported in the Abu Dhabi area and operations will not resume until the weather has cleared.
“Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) is working to fix the problem as soon as possible.
“Etihad Airways is working closely with ADAC to resolve the situation and to minimise disruption to our guests. As a result Etihad is anticipating significant delays to departures for the rest of the day.”
Passengers are advised to check the status of flights in and out of Abu Dhabi Airport.
Meanwhile, Dubai Airport faced its own diversions today due to the fog.
According to a Dubai Airports spokesperson, eight flights were diverted, while one was cancelled this morning.
A spokesperson for Dubai Airports said: “Low visibility due to fog caused some delays at Dubai International, while eight incoming flights were diverted to neighbouring airports, one flight was cancelled and we are working to ensure the comfort of the passengers.”
The spokesperson also added that the fog operations have been cancelled at the airport, with clear visibility reported.