Fog hits Delhi air traffic; PM's travel plans go awry

Fog hits Delhi air traffic; PM's travel plans go awry

Policemen walk in a foggy New Delhi. PTI photo.

Dense fog enveloped parts of the national capital on Thursday morning leading to cancellation of six flights and 10 diversions, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's travel plans also taking a hit.

Delhi Airport officials said at least 10 flights were diverted and take-offs suspended for two hours as dense fog enveloped the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday morning.

Modi was scheduled to travel to Jalandhar to inaugurate the 106th Indian Science Congress at the Lovely Professional University but his flight was delayed by more than two-and-a-half hours.

“I wanted to be here on time but because of the fog I got delayed,” the prime minister said during his speech at the Indian Science Congress in Jalandhar.

Delhi Airport officials said flight operations were suspended from 7.30 am to 9.30 am on Thursday due to low visibility conditions. In this two hour period, arrivals were operating as usual but departures resumed at around 9.30 am when the visibility improved.

Delhi Airport officials said most of the 10 diversions were mainly because airline pilots were not trained to operate in CAT-III B instrument landing systems.

CAT-III B Instrument Landing System allows flights to land safely in low visibility conditions.

According to the weather office, visibility in Palam area on Thursday morning had dipped to 50 metres. The minimum visibility for take off is 120 metres.

Airlines have already issued advisories for air travellers about possible delay on Friday.

Due to expected low visibility in Delhi, Amritsar, Kolkata, Patna, Bengaluru and Varanasi, all departures and arrivals and their subsequent flights might get affected, SpiceJet said.

Delhi recorded a minimum temperature of 6.7 degrees Celsius, a notch below the season's average. The humidity level was recorded at 100%.

“Severe delays have resulted from dense fog and runway closure this morning at Delhi, that has created a departures and arrivals backlog that will take time to clear. Cancellations also possible as day progresses,” private air carrier Vistara said on Twitter.

Low visibility conditions also affected train movement in the capital.

“At least 12 trains have been delayed due to fog conditions,” a Northern Railway official said.

He said Ahmedabad-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Sealdah-New Delhi Duranto Express, Swatantra Senani Express have been delayed by over two hours, while Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Duranto Express was running late by more three hours.

According to an NR official, Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express and Brahmaputra Mail were running behind schedule by six hours. “Gaya-New Delhi Mahabodhi Express and Howrah-New Delhi Poorva Express have been delayed by 4.5 hours,” he said.