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Fog in Delhi delays over 500 flights, several cancelled; Civil Aviation Minister wants SOP to help passengers

First Published: 15th January, 2024 18:58 IST

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has asked Delhi airport authorities to immediately operationalise the CAT III-enabled 4th runway in addition to the existing CAT III-enabled runway

Amid reports of close to 568 flights getting delayed and at least 104 flights getting cancelled yesterday and today due to dense fog hitting operations at the Delhi international airport leaving scores of passengers distressed and harassed, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has stepped in and issued directives to the Delhi airport authorities, airlines and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to better handle the situation and ease the passengers’ stress. The Union Minister also requested the passengers to bear with the authorities.

In a post on X, Scindia said, “Yesterday, Delhi witnessed unprecedented fog wherein visibility fluctuated for several hours, and at times, dropped to zero between 5 AM to 9 AM.

The authorities, therefore, were compelled to enforce a shut-down of operations for some time even on CAT III runways (CAT III runways cannot handle Zero-Visibility operations). The decision was taken keeping passenger safety in mind, which remains the foremost priority for all in the aviation ecosystem.

However, to mitigate the situation in the near future, following steps have been taken:
a. @DelhiAirport has been asked to immediately expedite the operationalization of the CAT III-enabled 4th runway (in addition to the existing CAT III-enabled runway) to the satisfaction of the @DGCAIndia, in order to get approvals.

b.The DGCA will issue an SOP for airlines on better communication and facilitation of passengers to minimise discomfort in view of flight cancellations & delays due to adverse weather.

It is my earnest request to all travellers to bear with us during this difficult period. All stakeholders are trying their best to minimize passenger inconvenience. Incidences of unruly behaviour amidst this are unacceptable, and will be dealt with strongly in line with the existing legal provisions.

I would like to assure everyone that all stakeholders are working round the clock to minimise the fog-related impact.”

With zero visibility owing to heavy fog, air traffic has been badly hit in the national capital since yesterday. Reports citing officials said that around 400 flights being delayed at the airport, 10 getting diverted and at least 20 getting cancelled on Sunday. As many as 168 flights have been reportedly delayed and 84 flights cancelled at the Delhi airport today.

The dense fog reportedly lasted for nearly 11 hours as visibility dropped below 200 metres at 12:30 am before it reached zero at 3 am (Sunday).

The Ministry of Civil Aviation in a tweet today informed, “Data from 5 AM to 9 AM shows that the CAT III Runway RWY 11R/29L handled 30 landings and 1 take off during the 4 hour period whereas the non- CAT III Runway RWY 9/27 couldn’t handle any flight movement and RWY 11L/29R handled 2 Take-offs during the period.”

The Ministry also refuted allegations stating that only one runway was operational yesterday.
Responding to a post on X, the ministry said, ” This is not correct. All three Operational Runways at Delhi Airport including a CAT III runway were handling flight operations as per their capabilities yesterday, however, with reduced capacity due to intense fog.”

Mercury dipped to 3.3 degrees this morning at the national capital, the coldest this season.

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