Dubai airport briefly halts flights on suspected drone activity

At least two Emirates flights were diverted to nearby airports



Dubai International Airport (DXB) closed briefly on Sunday on suspected drone activity, Emirates airline said.

The airline said two of its flights were diverted to nearby airports after Dubai International’s closure, the airline said.

Emirates flight EK433 from Brisbane and Singapore to DXB was diverted to Dubai World Central (DWC) and flight EK511 from Delhi was diverted to Sharjah International Airport (SHJ), the airline said.

“Emirates can confirm that today, Sunday, September 22, 2019, Dubai International Airport was closed from 12.36pm to 12.51pm local time due to suspected drone activity in the surrounding airspace,” it said.

“The drone activity took 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.”

The diverted flights returned to Dubai International Airport when the airspace reopened, the airline said.

Emirates also confirmed it assisted affected passengers with alternative booking options and hotel accommodation.

It also stressed that it places the “highest priority on the safety of its passengers and crew, and it will not compromise on this”.

The incident comes after DXB also grounded flights briefly in February following unauthorised drone activity.

Dubai International faced a similar issue in 2015, when an unauthorised drone was flown into the airspace around the airport.

It forced authorities to close the airspace for 55 minutes and cost the Dubai economy $1m for each minute that passed, according to DCAA head of aviation regulation and safety Michael Rudolph.

Airspace around Dubai International was also closed in three separate incidents in 2016, resulting in the diversion of several flights with major delays also reported.

Read: Emirates calls for action after “millions of dirhams” lost due to Dubai drone disruption

Following the incidents, a new resolution was passed in 2017 that non-registered drone use in Dubai will result in a fine of up to Dhs20,000 ($5,445).

Under the resolution, anyone seeking to perform an aviation activity in the emirate will need to get an annual licence from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.

No-fly zones in the emirate include Dubai International Airport, Al Minhad Air Base, the Palm Jumeirah around Skydive Dubai, while unmanned aerial vehicle operators will require licenses in nine other areas including Downtown Dubia, the Burj Khalifa and Skydive Dubai.

Read: Dubai introduces fines of up to $5,445 for illegal drone use

Dubai sets no-fly zones for drones