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Middle East Airports – Overcautious or Under-equipped?

April 21, 2013

Am I the only person who has noticed that of late some of the airports in the Middle East have closed with greater frequency?

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague was diverted to Bahrain in a flight from Paris to Doha. Doha is only 150 kilometres from Bahrain, and yes, there was some rain in the area. But was this reason to close an airport for several hours? There was a similar weather-induced delay, though not for so long, on his trip back.

Last year I was stranded in Abu Dhabi because of bad weather. So what’s causing these closures? Are the airport authorities being overcautious, or is their equipment due for an upgrade? It’s true that the Gulf is often affected by sandstorms. Landing in those conditions is not fun, and low-level wind-shear has been the cause of many accidents around the world.

Back in the 80’s when I worked in civil aviation, Jeddah airport would suffer regular outages to their instrument landing systems, such as that they became known as “fair-weather ILS” – the irony being that ILS is there to help aircraft land in poor visibility and bad weather.

Who knows, perhaps airport operators have become sensitive to the popularity in the region to satellite programmes like “Air Crash Investigation”.

Not that I’m complaining, you understand. I’d rather be sitting at an airport waiting hours for a flight than dead at the end of a runway. And sitting in an airport is infinitely more pleasurable than sitting in an aircraft these days, as the 59steps’ petulant alter ego argues in Creative Flying Solutions – Coffin Class, posted today.

From → Middle East, Travel

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