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Fog spoils Christmas plans of air passengers

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI DEC. 25. Seven international flights coming to Delhi had to be diverted and 17 domestic flights were cancelled as operations at Indira Gandhi International Airport here were again disrupted last night and early this morning due to fog.

The flight operations were first disrupted last evening around 8-30 p.m. when heavy fog descended on the airport, severely affecting the domestic flights. With the Runway Visibility Range being less than 200 metres, the flights were even unable to operate with the Category IIIA Instrument Landing System that has been installed by the Airport Authority of India at the IGI Airport.

Consequently, while several domestic flights were cancelled, seven international flights had to be diverted. Of these five were diverted to Mumbai. Of these three were of Air India (814, 305 and 315) while one each were of Chinese Airlines and Malaysian Airlines. Besides, one flight of Malaysian Airlines was diverted to Bangkok while one of Kazhakstan Airways was diverted to Lahore.

The AAI said last night an Austrian Airways flight (033) from Vienna managed to land at 10-52 p.m. by using the Category IIIA ILS. And this morning a Lufthansa (LH 8420) flight from Sharjah landed using the system at 8-25 a.m. while another of Royal Jordan from Amman landed at 8-56 a.m.

Incidentally, the fog had cleared slightly early this morning around 1 a.m., allowing for the landing of several international flights. Till even 5-30 a.m., the RVR was 250 metres and several flights were able to land. However, by 8-30 a.m., the operations were again disrupted as the RVR went down to 175 metres.

Subsequently, the first domestic departure was on an Indian Airlines flight (IC-904) for Bangalore at 9-53 a.m., which took off when the RVR was 425 metres. The visibility improved considerably thereafter and the RVR was 575 metres by 10 a.m, when the first Jet Airways flight to Kolkata (9W-901) took off. And thereafter, the first domestic arrival took place at 10-23 a.m. when a Jet Airways flight (9W-311) landed.

In the meantime, Indian Airlines said as at least 20 of its airports in Northern Region get affected by fog, to minimise the inconvenience and hardship to the travelling public, it has initiated several precautionary and preventive measures.

On its part, it has ensured that all pilots eligible for CAT IIIA endorsement were trained and cleared for such operation during the winter. Also, it said, priority flights were identified and deployment of pilots has been done in such a fashion that Category II and category IIIA pilots operated these designated flights every morning.

Averring that complete liaison was being maintained with the related agencies operative at airports, including the meteorological consultant appointed for the period of fog, it said instructions have also been issued to all departments involved in completion of coordination for despatch of flights to coordinate their respective tasks in advance so as to remain in total preparedness for departure under CAT IIIA conditions.

For facilitation and convenience of passengers, special deployment of officials also takes place from 4 a.m. Indian Airlines said a flight information cell is also being manned at 15 points on round-the-clock basis, which is monitored by designated coordinators for evaluating the response. Then a 24-hour Special Control Room and a Special Information Cell have also been set up.

Also, flight delay information is being made available on All India Radio, FM Channel, Doordarshan, Zee TV and Aaj Tak, and updated departure and arrival information has been made available on the Indian Airlines website, www.indian-airlines.nic.in.

The airlines said it has also tied up with several hotels in Delhi to take care of the passengers of disrupted flights and also made pre-paid taxi arrangements at the departure hall for passengers desirous of returning to their homes or offices following a delay or disruption in flight.

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