February 15, 2019 / 7:33 AM / 8 months ago

Drones temporarily ground Dubai Airport flights

FILE PHOTO: Visitors and staff are seen walking towards terminal three of Dubai Airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Flights at Dubai International Airport were temporarily grounded on Friday morning due to suspected drone activity, an airport spokesperson said.

The suspension was in effect from 10:13 to 10:45 a.m. local time (0613-0645 GMT) before flights were cleared to resume, Dubai Airport said. Service was now back to normal, the Dubai Media Office tweeted.

Dubai airport, the hub for airlines Emirates and flydubai, is the world’s busiest for international travelers. It served 81.4 million passengers in the first 11 months of 2018.

There are severe penalties in the United Arab Emirates for unauthorized drone activity, General Civil Aviation Authority Director-General Saif Mohammed al-Suwaidi said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.

The issue of drones interfering with commercial air traffic has taken on new urgency after reports of sightings around airports in Britain and the United States.

In January, flights from London’s Heathrow airport were halted for about an hour after a drone was sighted. Sightings also temporarily halted arrivals at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Gatwick Airport, London’s second busiest airport, was severely disrupted by drone sightings in December.

Passengers at Dubai took to Twitter to complain about Friday’s delay. “Stuck for ages at Dubai airport runway unable to taxi as unauthorized drones have entered the airspace here and all takeoffs have been grounded!” Twitter user @anushwij wrote.

Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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