Dubai International airport
Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Flights at Dubai International Airport (DXB) were disrupted for a short period this afternoon due to suspected drone activity in the area, following which two Emirates flights had to be diverted.

A Dubai Airports spokesperson told Gulf News, “Dubai Airports can confirm that flight arrivals were briefly disrupted at Dubai International (DXB) from 12.36 hours to 12.51 hours UAE local time this afternoon due to suspected drone activity resulting in the diversion of two flights. Safety is our top priority and Dubai Airports is working closely with authorities and service partners to ensure normal operations and minimise inconvenience to our customers.”

Responding to a query, an Emirates spokesperson said: “Emirates can confirm that today, Sunday, September 22, Dubai International Airport was closed from 12.36hrs to 12.51hrs local time due to suspected drone activity in the surrounding airspace. As a result flight EK 433 from Brisbane and Singapore to Dubai International Airport (DXB) was diverted to Dubai World Central (DWC) and flight EK 511 from Delhi to Dubai International Airport was diverted to Sharjah International Airport (SHJ). The diverted flights returned to Dubai International Airport when the airspace reopened. Emirates will assist affected passengers with alternative rebooking options and hotel accommodation where required. Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused but the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance and will not be compromised.”

In a statement released later in the day, Dubai Media Office said Emirates had clarified the circumstances  that caused the temporary diversion of flights. It said, "The drone activity had taken place despite repeated warnings by concerned authorities that such individual actions are serious violations of regulations that seek to prevent unauthorised aerial activity in the vicinity of  airports."

Not the first time

This is not the first time Dubai Airports has suspended operations due to suspected drone activity.

On February 15, flight departures from Dubai International were suspended between 1013 hours and 1045 hours UAE local time for the same reason.

Dubai Media Office had tweeted then: “Dubai Airports confirms that operations at Dubai International are back to normal after less than 30 minutes of delay due to unauthorised drone activity.

“Authorities warned that flying drones without obtaining permission is subject to legal liability as per UAE laws.”

The airport also encountered the problem in 2015, when it was shut for 55 minutes.

Three more incidents occurred in 2016, two lasting 30 minutes and a third spanning 115 minutes.

Those operating in unauthorised locations face stringent penalties including jail and up to Dh100,000 in fines.