Bird-hit Qantas aircraft leaves Muscat

Photo for illustrative purpose only

Muscat - 

A Qantas aircraft was grounded after it collided with a flock of birds while being diverted from Dubai to Muscat on Saturday morning, the Australian airline said. It finally left for Dubai on Sunday evening after necessary repairs.

The double-decker A380 flight QF9 was en route from Melbourne to London via Dubai. It departed Melbourne late on Friday night and was supposed to land in Dubai at 6.30am on Saturday.

It was then scheduled to depart for London at 12.40pm that day. However, according to data from the website Flight Radar 24, while on its way to Dubai, the plane kept flying in the Fujairah airspace, UAE due to bad weather. It made several go arounds before deciding to make a diversion to Muscat.

On the way back, it circled around the Suwaiq airspace before continuing to Muscat. Upon return, it collided with a flock of birds.

Speaking to Muscat Daily , a Qantas official said, “We can confirm QF9 was diverted to Muscat due to bird strike and weather in Dubai.”

Damage forced the aircraft to remain grounded in Muscat till Sunday evening. In a letter to passengers, the airline said repairs were delayed due to a lack of local expertise to repair A380 aircraft and working hour regulations. It wrote: “Today we had to divert your flight QF9 (EK5009) because of severe storms in Dubai. Unfortunately on approach we sustained a bird strike to the aircraft. As there are no A380 certified engineers in Muscat we required engineering support from Dubai which would not arrive before our technical and cabin crew were over their allowable operating hours under the Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations.”

The airline offered passengers a complimentary hotel stay. The plane left for Dubai at 7.15pm on Sunday.

It’s unclear how many were on board QF9 or how many were en route to London.

The delay caused frustration to passengers and many of their relatives waiting in London. In its letter, the airline regretted the inconvenience caused. “We understand you have had a very long and frustrating experience in Muscat and we sincerely thank you for the patience and understanding you have shown,” it said.

Qantas was one among a number of airlines that diverted their aircraft to Muscat over the weekend due to bad weather in Dubai.

In addition to Qantas, Emirates’ B777 and super jumbos were also handled by the Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC).

An official from the Muscat Air Traffic Control confirmed, “We had several flight diversions over the past two days including some of them in the early morning. Some inbound flights were diverted on Saturday from DXB [Dubai airport] and a number of outbound flights were delayed due to weather conditions. OAMC handled the traffic in a brilliant manner.”

With inputs from Maryam Khan

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