It’s quite unbelievable that a half-hour flight was put into a holding pattern for four hours. But it happened earlier this month. On November 2nd, an Air Arabia Maroc flight from Tangiers (Morocco) to Nador (Morocco) experienced severe delays due to poor weather conditions. What was supposed to be a 30-minute flight, departing the night before, ended up being delayed several hours before departing the next morning. In the end, the “short flight” lasted about four and a half hours. For reference, the drive between the two cities is pegged at just under seven hours.
Flight and incident details
The incident took place on November 2nd and involved a routine and short domestic flight from Tangier to Nador in Morocco. The Air Arabia Maroc Airbus A320 registered CN-NMG, operating as flight 3O726, took off from Tangiers for Nador with approximately 50 passengers onboard.
Weather reports show that the airport was trapped under a thick layer of fog with about 200 meters of visibility. Indeed, simply looking at the flight’s scheduled time of departure (21:35) on November 1st and its actual time of departure (06:04 the next morning) leads us to believe that it was pushed back in hopes that weather would improve.
Below is the stunning flight path visualization of the journey, showing the incredibly long hold the aircraft had to endure.
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The crew decided to enter a holding pattern and wait for visibility conditions to improve. Seemingly having a high level of optimism, the crew circled, and circled, and circled some more.
The aircraft finally landed safely at 10:40 in the morning, local time – holding for over four hours.
Why the long hold?
We don’t actually have an answer as to why the crew decided to wait out the weather conditions beyond believing that it was out of sheer optimism. One hour seems realistic and reasonable, while two hours would be understandable but also bordering on ‘unreasonable.’ However, for the crew to hold for four hours is quite extraordinary.
We inquired with Air Arabia regarding this incident. However, at the time of publication, the carrier has yet to respond to our inquiry.
The situation becomes even more puzzling as there are many suitable airports nearby, not to mention the option of returning to the origin city of Tangiers. The airport of Angads, which serves the eastern city of Oujda, for example, seems like it would have been a suitable possibility. Several European airlines normally fly to Oujda, including Ryanair, Transavia, and TAP Air Portugal.
This incident is certainly a mystery.
Why do you think the crew decided to stay in a holding pattern for four hours instead of diverting? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Our thanks to the individual that brought this story to our attention. While we keep our eyes out for the latest news and flight incidents, some things end up ‘flying below our radar’ so to speak. If you have an idea for a story or an incident worth sharing, you can submit a story via our website form.