Dubai and Sharjah airports remained closed on Saturday evening for over an hour due to unauthorised drone activity.
“Airspace around DXB was closed from 1925hrs to 2049hrs on Saturday due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in flight diversions,” Dubai Airport said in a tweet.
“Dubai Airports is working closely with its stakeholders to return operations to normal to minimise customer inconvenience. Safety is our top priority and we remind all UAV operators that activities are not permitted within 5km of any airport or landing area,” it added.
In a statement released after normal flight operations resumed at the airports, General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director General Saif Al Suwaidi said the airspace around Dubai and Sharjah airport was closed from 7:25 pm to 9:10 pm due to unauthorised drone activity resulting in a number of delays at the airport.
In June and September this year, Dubai International Airport was closed for over an hour and around 30 minutes due to illegal drone activity, respectively, which resulted in economic losses running into millions of dirhams.
The GCAA is currently working on full drone management system that will be applicable across the UAE, Laila bin Hareb, Assistant Director General, Strategy and International Affairs, told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the GCAA 2017-2021 strategy plan.
“Drone is more complex situation than what we think and it requires more robust systems. Anybody can buy drones. You can oversee an airline but how can you oversee a child with a drone and s/he misuses it.
“We have a huge drone show in 2018. And as a regulator we don’t want to stop the growth because it is unsafe and so what we need to do is we boost the growth and at the same time make it safe by issuing regulations that will come in place in future.”
It is the latest incident involving unauthorised activity by an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, at a UAE airport.
In September, Dubai International Airport was closed for more than an hour because of a drone incursion, and in June this year the airport was also closed for an hour due to a similar incident. Last year, another drone caused a 55-minute shutdown of airspace, costing the emirate’s economy a reported $1 million million per minute.
Following last year’s incident DXB was named as one of four drone no-fly zones established by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority. The others are Al Maktoum airport, the Al Minhad air base and the Palm Jumeirah near Skydive Dubai.