Heavy rain and strong hailstorms over Jeddah on November 24th disrupted operations at the city’s airport and damaged at least two aircraft as they approached for landing.
Saudia’s Airbus A330-300 was flying SV452 from Khartoum (KRT) to King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) when it encountered bad weather. Prior to landing, the aircraft, registered HZ-AQ25, engaged a high-altitude hold to wait for conditions to improve.
The onboard crew made an initial approach attempt, but after that they climbed back up to a height of 19,000 feet and held. The flight suffered significant hail and turbulence during its second approach.
Approximately 45 minutes after entering the first hold, the flight made a safe landing at 11:14, however the Airbus A330-300 sustained considerable hail damage.
Scheduled service operated by Saudia connects Khartoum, Sudan, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Airbus A330 and Airbus A320 aircraft are used to operate the service six times a week. It is planned for the flight to leave Khartoum at 04:15 and land in Jeddah at 07:00.
In the days before its journey to Sudan and returning, HZ-AQ25 had stopped in Istanbul, Dubai, and Cairo. One of 32 Airbus A330-300s in Saudia’s fleet, the Airbus A330-300 was first delivered to the airline on May 25th, 2017. Other widebody aircraft used by the carrier are the Boeing 777-300ER, 787-9, and 787-10.
Two seating arrangements are available on Saudia’s Airbus A330-300s. 330 passengers can be accommodated on board HZ-AQ25, which has a higher-density regional configuration. Of these, 30 can travel in business class and 300 in economy.
The lower-density Airbus A330-300s operated by the SkyTeam member have a larger business class cabin with 36 seats and 288 in economy.
Libyan Airlines Airbus A320
It’s also possible that the Airbus A320 of Libyan Airlines, with the registration 5A-LAK, sustained damage. When it met the same hazardous weather circumstances as the Saudia flight, the aircraft was flying flight LN1256 from Benghazi (BEN) to Jeddah. Both the Saudia and the Libyan Airlines planes are still in Jeddah as of the time of writing.
The National Center for Meteorology of Saudi Arabia reports that Jeddah received 179mm of rain in just six hours. Tragically, two people perished in the ensuing flash floods, and other structures and roads sustained significant damage. The entire amount of precipitation exceeded that of November 25, 2009, when over 120 people perished in the city due to flash floods, and was the largest amount ever recorded.
The departure of several planes has been delayed, according to King Abdulaziz International Airport, which also advised travellers to check with their airline in case of any schedule modifications.
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