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Passengers queue at a flight connection desk at the Dubai International Airport in Dubai on April 17, 2024.

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The CEO of Dubai Airports said Friday that he expects services to return “close to normality” within 24 hours after the major transit hub was hit by unprecedented flooding.

The United Arab Emirates has been left reeling from floods caused by the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the desert state. Airlines, banks, and transport links have all faced major disruptions.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Griffiths told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” Friday.

“We hope that within the next 24 hours, there’ll be a very significant improvement back towards the schedule that we can say is very close to normality,” he added.

The airport CEO said it was too soon to put a figure on the financial impact of the disruptions caused by the flooding which began Tuesday. He confirmed, however, that the company, which owns and operates Dubai International Airport, had approved emergency budgets to provide food and water to stranded passengers, and noted that all retail outlets were now operating normally.

“We’re putting all our efforts operationally at the moment, so we’re not even beginning to count it. The most important thing is that we get our customers looked after,” he said.

Dubai International, one of the world’s busiest and a gateway to the Middle East, has been mired in chaos over recent days, with thousands of frustrated travelers left stranded in terminals after flights were suspended.

Some flights resumed Thursday, and Griffiths said the airport was working closely with airlines to clear the backlog and improve flow rates. However, he noted that restrictions remain, particularly on arrivals.

Dubai airport said Friday that from midday local time it would be temporarily limiting the number of inbound flights for 48 hours.

“I’m personally in contact with all the management of the various airlines that serve DXB [Dubai International Airport], and we are trying to get more and more flights by each hour away,” he said.

“We put flow restrictions on arrivals, so that we’re not taking more aircraft and we can accommodate every single stand, and every single facility at the airport is actually fully operational,” he added.

Dubai airport has urged passengers to exert caution when traveling, checking with airlines beforehand to confirm the status of their flight and not arriving at the airport too early.

“Our message is really we’re asking people not to go to the airport until maximum two hours before their flight departure to give the airport a chance to recover,” Griffiths said.

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