Regulator intervenes to clear fog-hit flights at Delhi (Roundup)December 30th, 2008 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Following huge delays in flights in the capital for the second consecutive day, the aviation regulator Tuesday asked the Delhi airport management to give priority to flights heading for fog-hit northern cities over the aircraft flying to other destinations.The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said flights operating to critical airfields like Allahabad, Jammu, Kanpur, Leh, Pathankot and Srinagar, which have sunset restrictions, will be given priority for taking off from the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.
Some 19 flights were cancelled and nearly 200 flights were delayed because of fog Monday. Over 100 flights to and from Delhi were delayed and nine cancelled since midnight Tuesday.
Early morning flights to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Leh and Bangalore were cancelled. Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and Air India faced most cancellations. Low-cost carriers Indigo, Jetlite and GoAir were also hit.
Meteorological Department officials said foggy conditions would continue for two to three days more.
The DGCA has asked the airlines to keep passengers updated in case of flight delay, while the Delhi airport developer, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), has been asked to ensure all amenities for passengers if the flights are delayed.
The regulator has also urged the airlines to adhere to its guidelines while flying in low visibility conditions.
The airlines were asked to keep the DGCA routinely informed about the deployment of CAT II and CAT III pilots - trained to fly in low visibility conditions.
The runway visibility range (RVR) at the capital’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport dipped to less than 50 metres early Tuesday morning - well below the required minimum of 100 metres for flight operations. The general visibility condition in the area also fell below 100 metres, an airport official said.
The fog lifted by noon, but the delays continued as airport and railway authorities struggled to clear the backlogs.
The minimum temperature Tuesday was 8 degrees Celsius while the maximum temperature was 20.8 degrees Celsius.
Since fogs started hitting the city Dec 22, 14 flights were diverted and 126 flew in low visibility conditions, DIAL said in a statement.
“On this day last year, the maximum temperature was 22 degrees Celsius and the minimum 4 degrees Celsius,” a meteorological office spokesman said.
So far, the coldest day this winter has been Dec 13, with the minimum temperature dipping to 6.4 degrees Celsius.
Train services and road traffic also suffered due to the reduced visibility in the morning. The woes of passengers at the airport and railway stations were compounded as the authorities failed to update them on the extent of the delay, keeping thousands of people on tenterhooks.