Passengers on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Auckland, New Zealand, had a long journey to nowhere as the plane returned to Dubai International Airport after flying for nearly seven hours.

Emirates flight EK 448 took off from Dubai to Auckland on Friday only to return to Dubai after Auckland airport was closed after heavy rains flooded the terminal. Hence, passengers travelled for nearly 13 hours only to return to their city of departure.

Auckland’s airport was closed for international flights on Friday after torrential rains caused two deaths and widespread inundation. The authorities were carrying out the biggest mopping up to clean the city.

The FlightAware data showed that Auckland-bound Emirates flight EK 448 which left at 10.30 am Dubai time on Friday, January 27, returned midway to Dubai International airport due to the closure of the airport. The flight was scheduled to depart on January 29, 2023, at 1020hrs Dubai local time as EK8448.

Passenger traffic between Dubai and New Zealand has grown substantially after the pandemic, prompting Emirates to deploy its flagship and the world’s biggest passenger aircraft A380 to Auckland in December 2022. The flight reclaimed the title of the airline’s longest route on its network, clocking in 14,200 km, with an estimated flight time of just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, and 15 minutes in the other direction. This makes it one of the world’s longest non-stop scheduled commercial flights.

Dubai’s flagship carrier issued an advisory for passengers travelling to Auckland after the city airport was flooded. Emirates flight EK449 from Auckland to Dubai was cancelled while EK448 from Dubai to Auckland on January 28 was delayed by four hours. While EK448 from Dubai to Auckland on January 29 has been cancelled.

“Customers connecting to EK448 on January 29 will not be accepted to travel at the original point of departure. Customers impacted due to cancellations are advised to contact their travel agents or Emirates call centres for rebooking options,” the Dubai-based airline said.

However, Emirates operations for flight EK449 from Auckland to Dubai on January 29 and 30 are unaffected and are planned to operate according to schedule, it said.

“Customers are also advised to check the status of their flights… Emirates will continue to monitor the situation in Auckland and issue updates where required,” it added.


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