Grounded Oil Rig Helicopters Take to the Air

DUBAI - Helicopter hangars around the region were abuzz as flights at oil rigs returned and others finally took to the air after being grounded.

By Zoe Sinclair

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Published: Tue 4 Aug 2009, 2:18 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:17 AM

A dust cloud in the region for several days has impacted helicopter flights and tourism.

Several thousand were estimated to work on oil rigs around the region and more than 40 oil rigs are based off Dubai.

“This kind of still dust happens about twice a year for about three days – this seems to be a long period,” said Anthony Baker, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Falcon Aviation Services.

Six extra flights operated on Monday to clear a backlog. More were planned on Tuesday with the dusty conditions expected to return this afternoon.

Aerogulf Services, a helicopter flights company, was less affected by the dust but its helicopters were grounded on Saturday and Sunday. Flights resumed on Monday.

John Scott-Laws, Safety Quality Assurance manager with the company, said it operates tourist flights and flights to the oil and gas rigs offshore, of which there are more than 40 off Dubai.

“We’ve used the time for any maintenance due,” said Scott-Laws.

“It (the grounding) would have a business impact but I don’t think it’s significant.” The company has ongoing contracts with Dubai Petroleum.

A Dubai Petroleum spokesperson said the dust had minimal impact on its operations with only its weekly crew rotation conducted by ship rather than helicopter.

Tourism has also been affected especially touristic helicopter flights - prices for helicopter tourist flights start from Dh3200 for a half hour trip with Aerogulf.

Imad Aridi, Alpha Tours Inbound Travel Manager, said its scenic helicopter flights began at Dh975 for a 20min flight but none had been able to run for three days. They operate five flights a day.

“Nobody likes this weather but we just have to wait it out,” Aridi said.

Kulwant Singh, Managing Partner of Lama Desert Tours and Cruises, said desert safaris had also been affected.

He estimated a drop of about 20 per cent in tours and revenue.

“They can’t go on safari – it’s dangerous – especially on the open highways and eastern coastline,” Singh told Khaleej Times.

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