A major sandstorm across the United Arab Emirates has disrupted air traffic at airports in Dubai on Thursday, according to authorities, while online flight data showed Abu Dhabi was also impacted by the bad weather.
“Normal operations have been disrupted at Dubai International (DXB) and Al Maktoum International (DWC) due to bad weather across the GCC,” Dubai Airports, which operates both airports in the emirate, said on its website.
Dubai International was the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic in 2014, replacing Heathrow for the first time, as 70.5 million passengers travelled through the airport.
In a later emailed statement, Dubai Airports said delays were anticipated and it was working with all airlines to minimise disruption.
Four incoming flights to DXB, the emirate’s main airport, were diverted to neighbouring airports and two flights had been rerouted to the airport from other unspecified destinations.
Meanwhile, eight flights were diverted into DWC, Dubai’s second airport which mainly handles cargo, from other regional airports, the company statement added.
Many flights coming into Dubai from South Asia, Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region — which consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — have been delayed or cancelled, according to the flight status page on Dubai Airports’ website.
Some outgoing flights for the afternoon and early evening have also been delayed or cancelled, the site showed.
Flights flying into Abu Dhabi International Airport from Dammam, Muscat, Bahrain, Ras Al Khaimah and Mumbai during the morning were either delayed or cancelled, according to the flight status page on the airport’s website.
However, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, the operator of the airport, said in an emailed statement that “flight departure and landing are proceeding as normal with no delays or diversions to any of the scheduled flights from and to Abu Dhabi International Airport due to the sandstorm.”
It added a departure to Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain from Abu Dhabi had been delayed but this was due to the bad weather conditions at those airports.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways told Reuters that there was no impact on flights from the sandstorm.
However, online flight information on delayed and cancelled flights to Abu Dhabi airport included flights operated by Etihad.