Fog in Abu Dhabi strands international travelers

Posted on Jan 08, 2015

A layer of heavy fog at Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates stranded a number of flights coming in and going out of that country in early January. The airport is used as both a final destination and as a connector for flights traveling the world over due to its centralized location the Middle East. The volume of traffic at the airport is often significant and caused problems for many planes during the delay period, according to The Associated Press. One aircraft, bound for a final destination in San Francisco, had its passengers and crew trapped aboard the plane for roughly 12 hours.

Worst experience grabs headlines
While there were dozens of planes stuck on the ground in Abu Dhabi for many hours, the plight of the group of more than 100 people was most noticeable for the media. The passengers of Etihad Airways flight 183 not only were stuck on the tarmac for approximately 12 hours, they also were barred from disembarking and had very limited access to food and water. Passengers reports to local media outlets shortly after disembarking, compiled by The Associated Press, said a lack of communication was at the heart of the issue.

Discussions between airport employees, on-plane staff and passengers were disjointed, with the flight attendants repeatedly stating that travelers would be able to disembark in the near future. Instead, they stayed on the plane and couldn't disembark until their final arrival in San Francisco. Yahoo Travel reported that the passengers weren't allowed to leave the plane because the airport was already at its maximum occupancy level. The landing and takeoff areas were also full of planes, making any sort of movement a difficult proposition.

Situational awareness key for businesses
While the stranding of a single flight made for the best headlines, the fact of the matter is dozens of planes and thousands of travelers were delayed significantly by the heavy fog covering the airport. Businesses relying on air travel to get employees to their destinations have to understand both their duty of care obligations to such staff members and the operational inefficiencies that can occur when significant delays and cancelations mean staff don't reach the intended location at the right time. Having the systems in place to protect staff and ensure their safe arrival is a necessary part of international business.

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