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Israeli Airliner Heading to Dubai Diverts to Abu Dhabi During Stormy Weather, But Officials Reportedly Refused to Let the Passengers Off the Plane

Israeli Airliner Heading to Dubai Diverts to Abu Dhabi During Stormy Weather, But Officials Reportedly Refused to Let the Passengers Off the Plane

a man in a reflective vest standing in front of an airplane

An El Al Israel Airlines flight that was heading from Tel Aviv to Dubai on Wednesday was forced to divert to Abu Dhabi after stormy weather at its intended destination prevented the airplane from landing.

But rather than allowing the passengers to disembark in Abu Dhabi, local officials reportedly prevented anyone from getting off the plane, and the passengers ended up on a nine-hour journey flight to nowhere, ending up back exactly where they started in Tel Aviv.

El Al flight LY971 departed Tel Aviv at around 5:40 am on Wednesday morning for what should have been a routine sub-three-hour flight to Dubai. At the time LY971 took off, however, Dubai was still being battered by heavy rain and operations at Terminal 1 where the flight was meant to land had been suspended.

The Boeing 777-200 overflew Dubai before diverting to neighbouring Abu Dhabi, which is around an hour’s drive from Dubai.

The aircraft remained on the ground in Abu Dhabi for around three hours, according to data provided by Flight Radar 24, but passengers weren’t allowed off the plane during this time.

With operations at Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport remaining suspended during this time, there was the possibility that passengers could disembark in Abu Dhabi and make their way to Dubai by ground transportation.

Multiple reports, however, suggest that local officials denied permission for passengers to end their journey in Abu Dhabi so the plane was forced to return to Tel Aviv with everyone still onboard.

Flight LY971 is a nod to the UAE’s international phone code, and, interestingly, the flight number was used for the first commercial flight by El Al to the United Arab Emirates, which landed at Abu Dhabi Airport in August 2020.

View Comments (2)
  • Hard to understand any legitimate justification for this – assuming the truth of the story – given that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the same country, with the same immigration laws, the same UAE Custom’s Authority, and the same UAE Ministry of the Interior. Heads should roll if some bureaucrat at the airport took it upon himself to violate UAE law to satisfy his own prejudice.

  • I drove from Dubai to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, after the storm. It took three hours to escape from Dubai. There was still a lot of flooding, including on the major highways. The road to Abu Dhabi was still partly flooded and there were a couple of detours.

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