The Impact of Flight Delays on Airlines in the United Arab Emirates

Flight delays present some of the most unfulfilling experiences to passengers and are mostly caused by factors such as weather conditions, security concerns, airport congestion, and the use of small aircraft by airlines. In most cases, passengers are forced to wait in airports for hours while some cancel their flights since the delays irreversibly affect their plans. Among airline companies, flight delays result in them paying heavy fines to their delayed customers and incurring higher operation costs due to the provision of accommodation services, increased fuel costs, and flight cancellations. While some of the causes of flight delays are unavoidable, on the overall, an improvement in the air traffic control systems can significantly reduce the severity and rate of occurrence of flight delays. An analysis of the impact of flight delays shows that both passengers and airlines incur heavy costs due to the wasted man-hours in airports.
According to Ball et al. (2010, p.12), flight delays had a cost $32.9 billion in the US in 2007, which was mainly attributed to increased expenses for crew, fuel, maintenance, lost passengers’ time, flight cancellation, and lost demand. Besides the direct costs, flight delays indirectly affect a country’s economy. In particular, inefficiencies in air transport increase the cost of doing business in other sectors and make associated businesses less productive (Ball et al. 2010, p. 12). In an article by Maceda (2017), Emirates and Etihad airlines, two UAE based airline companies, were cited by the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) alongside American, Singapore, and Turkish airlines for massive flight disruptions. According to the CAA, over 200,000 passengers are delayed by these airlines annually, a situation that adversely affects their traveling plans.
In conclusion, UAE based airline companies should implement strategies of reducing the incidences of flight delays in their operations since it negatively affects their country’s economy. The fact that two of the country’s airlines have been mentioned alongside five of the world’s most inefficient airline companies with regards flight delays tarnishes the country’s image. In addition, air transport associated businesses such as those offering logistics services in the UAE may become less productive, which may make the region unattractive for investments.
Questions to an Air Transport Manager

  1. What are the impacts of flight delays in the UAE economy?
  2. What measures has your company undertaken to minimize the occurrences of flight delays?
  3. Do you have a messaging system that you use to communicate with your customers in case of a possible flight delay?
  4. What are the main causes of flight delays in UAE?
  5. What is the financial impact of flight delays to your company?

Reference List
Ball, M, Barnhart, C, Dresner, M, Hansen, M, Neels, K, Odoni, A, Peterson, E, Sherry, L, Trani, A & Zou, B 2010, ‘Total delay impact study: A comprehensive assessment of the costs and impacts of flight Delay in the United States’, National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR). Available from:                                                           <> [22 August 2017].
Maceda, C 2017, ‘Emirates slams UK’s CAA action over flight delay compensation’, Gulf News, 26 February 2017, (Aviation section), viewed 22 August 2017, <>