Dubai: UAE flights were disrupted on Thursday as a sandstorm swept across the Arabian Gulf, local airport and airline officials said.
“Bad weather conditions persisting across the GCC region since morning have affected normal operations at Dubai International and Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC),” a Dubai Airports spokesperson said by email on Thursday.
Four inbound flights to Dubai International were diverted to neighbouring airports. Meanwhile, two flights were diverted to Dubai International and eight flights were diverted to Al Maktoum International from regional airports, the spokesperson added.
Dubai International, handling 70.4 million passengers in 2014, is the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic.
The sandstorm impacted Emirates, the world’s largest by international seating capacity and largest operator at Dubai International.
The airline’s flights were delayed “on average ... by around an hour” to allow “more time between take-offs and landings to make allowances for the low visibility conditions currently in Dubai,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
Flydubai, the main operator out of Terminal 2 at Dubai International, saw “delays to some of [its] flights and some cancellations” on Thursday, a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Sharjah International Airport tweeted that some arrivals and departures “might be delayed” due to weather conditions. An Air Arabia spokesperson said the weather conditions caused delays to scheduled services from Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.
However, Abu Dhabi International was unaffected by the adverse weather conditions, Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports said in an emailed statement. Flights were proceeding “as normal with no delays or diversions” he said, while two flights to Damman and Bahrain were delayed due to weather conditions at those airports.
An Etihad Airways spokesperson confirmed on Thursday its flights were not affected by the sandstorm.