Two flights diverted as suspected drone spotted near Dubai International Airport

The airport was closed for 15 minutes on Sunday

Two incoming flights - from Singapore and Delhi - were diverted away from Dubai International on Sunday. Courtesy: Emirates
Powered by automated translation

Dubai International Airport closed on Sunday for 15 minutes due to suspected drone activity in the area.

Two incoming Emirates flights from Brisbane and Delhi were diverted to Dubai World Central and Sharjah International Airport.

“Dubai Airports can confirm that flight arrivals were briefly disrupted at Dubai International from 12.36pm to 12.51pm UAE local time this afternoon due to suspected drone activity resulting in the diversion of two flights,” a airport spokesman said.

Flight arrivals were briefly disrupted 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.”

Emirates said EK433 from Brisbane via Singapore and EK511 from Delhi returned to Dubai International Airport once the airspace reopened.

“Emirates will assist affected passengers with alternative rebooking options and hotel accommodation where required,” an Emirates spokeswoman said.

“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused but the safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance and will not be compromised.”

The incident is the latest drone activity to affect international flights.

In February, operations were temporarily shut-down at Dubai International, causing delays of almost an hour on some flights.

Drones forced the airspace around Dubai International to close on three occasions in 2016, leading to strict penalties by the country's General Civil Aviation Authority.

In December, major disruption was caused at London's Gatwick airport after drones were spotted near the airfield, raising concerns globally about the vulnerability of airports to unmanned aerial vehicles.

Anyone found operating a drone without a licence in the UAE or any restricted airspace can be hit with a Dh20,000 fine. The devices cannot be flown within 5 kilometres of an airport.

A variety of measures have been tested at airports around the world to improve safety in airspace occupied by aircraft at low altitudes during take-off and landing.

Police in Holland were the first to utilise the use of falcons and eagles, trained to intercept and down unauthorised drones.

London Heathrow is also reported to have developed ‘signal jammers’ to incapacitate drones flown illegally in its airspace.

Climate change protesters threatened to fly drones in Heathrow area this month to cause widespread disruption to one of the world’s fourth busiest airport, behind Atlanta, Beijing and Dubai.