Brace for More Travel Hiccups as Foggy Mornings are Here to Stay

ABU DHABI - Brace yourselves for low visibility, traffic delays and travel schedule upsets in the coming months. In what is going to be a pattern for the next few winter months, heavy fog in the morning disrupted many flight schedules and caused heavy traffic jams on Abu Dhabi-Dubai Highway on Thursday.

By Anwar Ahmad

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Published: Sat 18 Oct 2008, 12:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:33 PM

The emirate’s police claimed they managed to avert accidents on the roads. Four flights were cancelled and 13 others were diverted to other airports on Thursday due to heavy fog and low visibility at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, a spokesperson of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) said.

The cancelled flights include one each of Gulf Air and Qatar Airways and two flights of Etihad Airways.

Ten flights were diverted to the Al Ain International Airport, one flight to Muscat, one to Sharjah International Airport and the other to Dubai International Airport, the ADAC spokesperson said.

According to the General Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) regulations, flight operations should be halted to ensure the passengers’ safety if visibility on the runways is less than 60 metres.

The flight operations at the Abu Dhabi International Airport were halted at 12.10am as runway visibility dropped to less than 50 metres on Thursday. Normal operations resumed at 7.45am and the airport became fully operational later.

K. Lakshmanan, manager of Abu Dhabi office of Air India Express, said, “A Cochin flight IX 452 supposed to depart from Abu Dhabi at 12.45am was delayed and rescheduled for 9pm. Another flight IX 348 to Kozhikode in Indian state of Kerala was rescheduled for 8pm.”

“We informed passengers to return home and come back to the airport on the rescheduled timings while some passengers stayed back at the airport,” Lakshmanan said.

“Severe fog meant diversion of six flights to Al Ain and one flight to Dubai. A further 17 early morning departures from Abu Dhabi were delayed,” an Etihad Airways statement said.

“In addition we have had to cancel six flights from Abu Dhabi to minimise the impact across the network during the day. Passengers have been re-accommodated on other Etihad services where possible,” the statement added.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused,” the statement added.

Accidents Averted

The police managed to prevent major accidents though heavy fog covered the motorways, especially Abu Dhabi-Dubai and Abu Dhabi-Al Ain highways as well as Al Ghwaifat expressway, Colonel Hamad Adil Al Shamsi, Director of the Department of Traffic and Patrols, General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police, told Khaleej Times. Only a few minor accidents occurred in which no causalities were reported.

Traffic police were deployed along the highways to regulate traffic and motorists were advised to drive carefully in a bid to avoid accidents like the massive vehicle pile-up last March because of heavy fog. Colonel Al Shamsi said the Traffic Police Department was alerted by the Meteorological Department in Abu Dhabi about heavy fog going to envelop the region from 4am to 8am on Thursday.

Low visibility and fog had resulted in the worst-ever accident in the history of the UAE involving more than 60 vehicles, including 12 buses which rammed into each other on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway in March this year.

Three persons died and 317 people were injured in the accident which left several vehicles destroyed by fire.

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