From 19JUL, the Hajj routes for 2018 will take effect.
What are Hajj routes?
Every year, millions of pilgrims travel to Mecca and other sites in Saudi Arabia – and this changes the predominant traffic flow over the African continent. ATC in the FIR’s most affected put in place standard routings to help flow that traffic.
Normally, traffic is very much north-south predominant, with Europe-Africa flights being the main flow. When Hajj operations start up, a good amount of traffic starts operating east-west (ie. Africa-Saudi Arabia and vice versa), and this is something to be aware of when cruising along at FL330 with spotty HF comms.
So, in addition to the normal IFBP belt and braces on 126.9, keep an eye out for a much higher amount of crossing traffic during the coming months.
The FIR’s affected are: Algiers, Accra, Brazzaville, Dakar, Jeddah, Kano, Khartoum, N’Djamena, Niamey, Roberts, and Tripoli.
The Hajj routings are contained in this ASECNA AIP Supplement.
With a publication date of tomorrow (May 10), there is a new French AIC coming out “15/18: OVERFLIGHT OF CONFLICT ZONES“.
Of note is the new addition to the list – Saudi Arabia.
These French AIC’s use careful wording so as to completely avoid mentioning the specific threat for each country it includes in its list, but clearly in the case of Saudi Arabia, this new warning is related to the increased missile activity along the border with Yemen. The new advice to French carriers (but in reality, everyone) is:
– To exercise caution during flight operations in the airspace of Saudi Arabia (OEJD/JEDDAH FIR) and follow instructions given by the Saudi authorities providing air traffic services, particularly in the southwest of Saudi airspace in which SCATANA (Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids rules) may be activated by NOTAM by the Saudi authorities;
– Not to operate any flights to OEAB/Abha, OEGN/Jazan, OENG/Nejran, OESH/Sharurah, OEWD/Wadi Al Dawasir and OEBH/Bisha airports located in the southwest of the FIR – these airports should not be planned as alternates either.
The advice here is similar to the existing German Notam issued back in March, which warns against flying close to the border with Yemen, and to avoid landing at OEAB/Abha airport. The German Notam also makes a point of referencing the risk of operating to both OEJN/Jeddah and OERK/Riyadh, due to the high number of missile attacks launched against these airports from within Yemen recently.
With the overall increase in missile activity in the southwest of the country, there is now a clear risk to operations in Saudi airspace, even outside the SCATANA area. The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen remains complex and volatile. Safeairspace continues to provide up-to-date information for both Saudi and Yemen airspace.