Chaos at Delhi airport, dozens of flights delayed

March 9th, 2008 - 12:25 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Hundreds of passengers at the Delhi airport had a harrowing time early Sunday after out of season fog engulfed the runway delaying dozens of international and domestic flights, with alleged mismanagement by the authorities adding to the chaos. “There was unprecedented chaos, which is indicative of mismanagement,” said Gulshan Luthra, a businessman, describing the scene at the airport.

“The home ministry officials must also go through the normal queues to experience the harrowing time passengers face. The mismanagement is telling on us passengers,” Luthra told IANS.

Luthra was supposed to board an Air India flight to Dubai, which was delayed by at least two hours.

The scene at both the international and domestic terminals at the Indira Gandhi International Airport saw harried passengers waiting endlessly at the queues and lounges to board their flights.

The flight movement at the domestic airport was temporarily suspended at around 8 a.m., when the runway visibility range RVR, fell below 200 meters due to the fog. At least 30 domestic flights are running behind schedule.

People had to spend hours first battling a rush at the airport entrance and then at the immigration counters.

The immigration counters posed the biggest bottleneck, as several counters were not operational. Of the 28 immigration counters, only 14 were manned leading to serpentine queues.

The elderly, handicapped, and passengers with children suffered the most. Many elderly were seen gasping for breath as a result of standing in long queues for hours.

“The chaos is horrible. I have never seen such long queues in the past 30 years. The situation is pathetic and the government must take up this issue seriously,” said Anil Kumar, another passenger.

“Since morning the airport is totally jam packed with passengers and the airport authorities have made no arrangements to handle such situations.”

An immigration official told IANS on condition of anonymity, “What can we do? We have been working at a stretch for the last 13 hours. There is a dire need of more immigration officials at the airport.”

Earlier, this week some passengers fainted due to the claustrophobic condition at the airport.

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