Passengers hit as low visibility grounds flights in Delhi, North India

It was a day of delays and diversions as low visibility conditions in North India and Chennai impacted flight operations across the country.

A planned one-hour closure of the runway at Mumbai due to an Indian Air Force aerial display added to challenges with passengers venting their frustration on social media.

Delhi airport is the busiest in the country with around 1,300 flight movements. However, on Sunday not a single aircraft took off and only 15 planes landed between 4 am and 10 am. Ten Delhi-bound flights were diverted to Jaipur.

  • Also read: Passengers hit as low visibility grounds flights in Delhi, North India

Passengers of a few of those arriving planes were stuck on the taxiway at Delhi airport for over two hours as all parking bays remained occupied. 

“I wish to declare temporary refugee status. Flights getting delayed or cancelled at Delhi airport. Been here for 5 hours,” George Kotakkal, a flyer, said in a X post. 

Manish Ambwani, head of Global Operations at Gurgaon-based GreenTree Advisory Services, spent nearly seven hours at the Delhi international airport on Sunday to catch a flight to Dubai as the capital city coped with intense fog. “When I reached the check-in counter, I was informed that my flight was delayed by about three hours. But it ended up being delayed by nearly five hours. With so many flights getting delayed it was utter chaos at Terminal 3. Infact even after boarding, we had to wait for nearly one hour inside the aircraft due to severe congestion on the runway,” he said.

CAT IIIB instrument

Two of Delhi airport’s runways are equipped with CAT IIIB instrument landing system which allows landings in 75 metres visibility and take offs in 125 metres visibility. However, only one of them is in operation currently and the other is undergoing recarpeting. The civil work is complete and runway lighting system is being inspected before runway is made available for use.

Flight operations at Chennai airport were impacted between 4.30 am and 8 am due to low visibility caused by bonfires on account of Bhogi. The airport saw diversion of seven flights and cancellations of 47 flights. “We had held discussions with airlines, and some had already rescheduled flights anticipating low visibility,” an airport official said.

Other airports in North India such as Amritsar, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Varanasi too were impacted due to fog resulting in delays and cancellations.

“Our staff kept passengers apprised of all delays and cancellations across airports and made every possible effort to facilitate the passengers,” IndiGo said in a statement.

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