'Worst' fog disrupts 180 flights at Delhi airport

Flight operations went haywire due to fog on Friday at Indira Gandhi International Airport which remained closed for around five hours, affecting over 180 domestic and international flights.

The fog, which descended on the airport on Thursday night, grew denser on Friday morning with airport MeT department terming it the “worst” of the season.

Around 19 flights had to diverted to Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai after visibility dropped to less than 50 metres while 19 were cancelled and around 130 flights were delayed by up to seven hours, an airport official said.

The fog started to envelope the airport from 8.30 pm on Thursday night but it become more dense around 1 am but the visibility become almost zero between 8 am and 8.30 am on Friday. “The runway visibility dropped to below 50 metres on both runways rendering them inoperational,” an airport official said.

Flights operations remained closed between 6 am and 10.45 am, after runway visibility was less than the required minimum of 50 to 75 metres for landing with the help of Category III B (CAT-III B) instrument landing system (ILS). The required minimum for a flight to take-off is 125 metres and 150 metres for light and heavy aircraft.

Huge backlog

Out of the 19 diverted flights, three were diverted to Ahmedabad, one to Mumbai and 15 to Jaipur.  Similarly, out of 19 cancelled flights, 12 were due to poor weather at Delhi, four due to bad weather at destination and three due to airlines operational reasons. The airport witnessed huge backlog as no flights could take-off between 6 am and 10.45 am due to poor visibility.

The MeT department has predicted that the visibility may drop below 200 metres from 2.30 am on Saturday. It would further reduce below 50 metres in very dense fog from 6 am. “Very dense fog developed over IGI airport during 4 am to 10.45 am when general visibility dropped below 50 metres. Thick fog started at western side of the airport at runway 29 end at 5 am. It further deteriorated to below 50 metres at third runway 29. This was found to be worst dense fog observed in this season till superseding the earlier occurred dense fog date of 14 January of 2013,” the official said.

The present dense fog conditions over Delhi will significantly improve during next 48 hours with almost no dense fog on February 4 morning over the airport.

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