Heavy floods in New Zealand’s Auckland have disrupted flight services to and from the city. The scale of disruption is such that a few international flights flew for hours and then had to turn back to their places of origin. In one such case, an Emirates flight from Dubai was in the air for 13.5 hours but had to return due to bad weather in Auckland.    

On Friday, Emirates flight EK448 took off from Dubai for Auckland at 06:57 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). The flight was about six hours and a half into its journey and flying over the Indian Ocean. However, the flight was asked to turn back as the weather was not favourable in Auckland. At around 13:25 UTC, the plane turned back and landed in Dubai at around 19:50 UTC.  

Flightradar24, a Swedish flight tracker site, shared the flight path on Twitter. It said: “Not the longest flight in the world anymore, but this Dubai-Auckland flight probably feels like it today.” With Auckland Airport closed due to flooding, the site said, Emirates decided to return to Dubai. “Looking about a 13.5-hour flight from Dubai to Dubai.”

A day before this, an American flight flying to Auckland had to return after being in the air for nearly ten hours. Flight AA35 departed from Texas’s Dallas Fort Worth for a nearly 15 hours journey to Auckland. However, after nearly five hours, the flight turned back to Texas, UK-based Sky News reported on Monday.

The Auckland Airport was shut for a day last week due to heavy downpours, affecting a number of domestic and international flights. In a series of tweets, the authorities said roads at the airport were impacted by widespread flooding, along with the check-in and arrivals areas of the international terminal.

“Auckland Airport has been assessing the damage to our international terminal and unfortunately determined that no international flights can operate today,” the authorities said in a tweet on Saturday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Saturday said his travel to Auckland had been delayed due to weather conditions.

The Auckland Airport resumed the services on Sunday but requested the passengers to check with airlines about their flights “as schedules may be disrupted for several days”. Today, the authorities said that airport processes may take longer during the next few days to rebook the passengers.

Auckland’s weather department has warned of heavy rainfall during the next few days. In its latest weather update, the agency said: “Expect 80 to 120 mm of rain. Peak rates of 10 to 20 mm/h, but localised areas may see downpours of 25 to 40 mm/h. Thunderstorms are also possible.” This rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, the department said, adding that slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.


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