Fog in Delhi: 10 flights diverted, 20 cancelled, 400+ delayed | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Fog in Delhi: 10 flights diverted, 20 cancelled, 400+ delayed

Jan 15, 2024 05:50 AM IST

Visibility dipped below 200 metres at 12.30 am and was zero for nearly seven-and-a-half-hours between 3am and 10.30am

The dense fog that lasted for nearly 11 hours on Sunday hit flight and rail operations in the Capital leaving thousands of passengers waiting for hours, airport and railway officials said.

Fog at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI)
Fog at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Sunday. (ANI)

Visibility dipped below 200 metres at 12.30 am and was zero for nearly seven-and-a-half-hours between 3am and 10.30am — leading to around 400 flights being delayed at the airport, 10 getting diverted and at least 20 getting cancelled, officials said.

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The cascading effect of delays continued till the evening even though sunlight improved visibility for five hours, from 12pm to 5pm.

This was also the worst fog spell of the year that hit transit operations and the 10 diversions to the Jaipur airport were down to poor visibility. “A total of 10 flights were diverted at the airport. This occurred at different times between 4.30 am and noon,” said an airport official.

Though there was no official confirmation about the number of delayed flights, Delhi airport’s website showed around 200 flights were delayed throughout the day. The website also showed at least 10 cancellations.

The airport initiates low visibility procedures (LVP) — measures aimed at making landing for flights easier — when visibility dips below 800 metres.

During this period, CAT-I procedures are in place, which is the most basic set of precautions in place to guide pilots in landing. Only flights and pilots that are CAT-II compliant are allowed to land when visibility is less than 550 metres. At the same time, CAT-IIIA pilots can land when visibility is between 175 and 300 metres. CAT-III B is the most stringent qualification allowing them to land even when visibility is 50 metres.

While flights can still land at the airport when visibility is 50 metres, no flights are allowed to depart unless the runway visibility range (RVR) is 125 metres, leading to flight delays. This can lead to subsequent delays as parking bays are occupied and flights waiting to land at the airport are still in the queue.

Flight operations were also hampered due to the ongoing work on one of the runways. Three out of the four runways at the airport have been operational since August 2023, and repairs have been underway at runway 28/10 for the last four months.

Two out of the three runways are capable of allowing landings and takeoffs in CAT 3. In some cases, flights are also diverted when the pilot of an airline is not CAT 3 compliant.

Saif, an airline pilot, took to X and said it took him an extra 2 hours and 24 minutes to get a parking bay. “Landed at 7:48am this morning; only to wait a whopping 2hrs 24mins for our parking bay! We landed CAT 3 with 75 metres of visibility, but since that’s too low for departures; all bays were occupied so we waited patiently for our turn! Crazy day at Delhi!,” he posted.

Among the flights delayed included a special IndiGo flight on which Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi were to travel to Imphal to kick-start the “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra”. Visuals emerged of the leaders waiting at the airport as visibility remained below 200 metres till 11.30 am.

The airline said in a statement: “Due to the low visibility and dense fog conditions across North India, IndiGo flight operations were impacted on Jan 14, 2024. This had a cascading effect on our operations throughout the day. Our staff kept passengers apprised of all delays and cancellations across airports and made every possible effort to facilitate the passengers. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our passengers.”

Passengers also took to social media to express their frustration. “UK 945 delayed for 4 hours since 11.45. No lunch offered at Delhi Airport by Airline nor any clear time for departure. It’s now 3.45 and passengers are sitting hungry and helpless,” posted Nitin Chabria.

Forecasts by IMD show dense to very dense fog is likely to persist on Monday as well, with an orange alert in place.

Meanwhile, the Northern Railway reported that 22 trains — originating from or heading to the Capital — were delayed by at least one hour. This included the Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express and the Kanpur-New Delhi Shramshakti Express.

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