New Delhi: Dense fog along with airspace restrictions on Tuesday caused inconvenience to passengers as several flights were delayed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.
“Over 150 flights at Delhi’s IGI airport were delayed on Tuesday. However, only seven of them had to be cancelled,” an official in the know of the matter said.
“The cancellations, however, were due to operational reasons,” he added.
“Delhi along with North India witnessed dense fog leading to delayed take offs from their origin airports,” an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said.
This comes after the India Meteorological Department, on Sunday, warned of dense to very dense fog and cold to severe cold day conditions to continue over north India during next four days.
Apart from Delhi, Amritsar, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kolkata and Bangalore airports are CAT III compliant, the technology that allows flights to land on days with very poor visibility (fog or rains).
“Most of the airports are CAT I or CAT II compliant, impacting the flight operations during poor visibility days,” the official said.
CAT I (or Category I) allows landing in a visibility of 500 mts and CAT II calibrations allow flights to land with a visibility of 300 mts on the runway.
The recent increase in flight disruptions at Delhi airport due to fog caused severe inconvenience to passengers, forcing the government to come up with SOPs to be strictly followed by the airlines.
“The recent delays and inconvenience caused by fog and adverse weather conditions have underscored the pressing need to improve Category III (CAT III) facilities in airports across India…The absence of CAT III capabilities not only hampers operational efficiency but also strains the entire aviation ecosystem, impacting airlines..there is a compelling case for a collaborative effort between the government and the aviation industry to expedite the implementation of CAT III facilities at airports nationwide” Jaideep Mirchandani, Group Chairman of Sky One, a VIP charter service company, said.
Airport officials said that the number of flight delays increased due to airspace curbs in Delhi from January 19 to 26. According to a statement issued by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) last week, no flights are permitted to land or take- off from Delhi on the Republic Day week from 10.20am to 12.45pm.
“While a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued to all the airlines, the closure of airspace leads to congestion in the airspace as airlines seek landing permissions from the air traffic control, as soon as it reopens. On Tuesday, the flights that were already delayed from smaller airports due to fog, had to be further delayed as per the Delhi airspace restrictions,” an airport official said.
IndiGo posted a travel advisory on X and alerted passengers of possible flight disruptions due to “weather challenges” in Lucknow, Patna, Varanasi, Jammu and Agartala. “..our flight schedules may experience interruptions..” their post said.
SpiceJet, however, alerted passengers about possible flight disruptions on Wednesday. “Due to expected poor visibility in Delhi (DEL), Amritsar (ATQ), Jammu (IXJ), Jaipur (JAI), Varanasi (VNS), Gorakhpur (GOP), Patna (PAT), Bagdogra (IXB), Guwahati (GAU), Tezpur (TEZ), and Darbhanga (DBR), all departures/arrivals and their consequential flights may get affected. Passengers are requested to keep a check on their flight status,” the airline said on X.