DGCA withdraws flight slots for three airlines

The Directorate- General of Civil Aviation on Thursday withdrew six landing slots of three private airlines for operating flights with pilots that are untrained to land in foggy conditions and failing to equip aircraft with mandatory devices to negate the effects of fog.

The six slots – two each for Jet Airways, IndiGo and GoAir – were withdrawn after six flights of these airlines were diverted from Delhi to Jaipur due to fog that persisted from Wednesday evening till the early hours of Thursday.

Earlier this month, the DGCA had asked airlines to appoint pilots trained to fly under foggy conditions and fit aircraft with devices to match the Cat-III Instrument Landing System (ILS) in Delhi or face severe action.

The slots withdrawn are Jet Airways’ Lucknow-Delhi (9W-2452) and Indore-Delhi (9W-2794), GoAir’s Mumbai-Delhi (G8-343) and Ahmedabad-Delhi (G8-164) and IndiGo’s Dubai-Delhi (6E-024) and Chennai-Delhi (6E-316) flights.

“On January 29, visibility at IGI Airport Delhi started dropping after 17:30 hours, whereas Runway Visibility Range started dropping after 20:30 hours. This trend was brought to the notice of all the airlines. The DGCA has been in continuous touch with airlines to ensure deployment of Cat-III compliant aircraft and Cat-III trained crew during fog period. However, in spite of repeated efforts in this regard, two flights each of Jet Airways, Go Air and IndiGo were diverted from Delhi to Jaipur. Operational Control AAI informed that one of the flight crew on the flights was not Cat-III trained,” an official statement said.

Noting that airlines violated the provisions of Civil Aviation Rules, it said that the DGCA viewed it “very seriously that instructions issued from time to time are not adhered to by operators”. The aviation regulator had a meeting with airlines on January 7 this year, after there were disruptions and diversions of flights in Delhi due to foggy weather. This had led to inconvenience for a large number of fliers.

Officials said the largescale diversion was caused mainly due to the airlines operating planes with untrained pilots and not fitting aircraft with Cat-III ILS-matching devices.

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