On Thursday, Atul Bakshi scheduled all his business meetings in Delhi post-lunch.
The Malad-based businessman, who travels to the capital twice a week, took this decision after a nightmarish experience last week when several flights were disrupted due to thick fog cover in North India.
“My flight was diverted to Jaipur and I wasted nearly the entire day,” said the 39-year-old who landed in Delhi an hour behind schedule on Thursday.
Several travellers like Bakshi who go to and return from Delhi on the same day are adjusting their travel plans.
“Business travellers have stopped booking morning flights to Delhi,” said Rajesh Rateria, managing director of Cirrus Travels. “This segment usually travels during the peak hour [7am to 8 am] but now they are going for flights around 12 noon.”
On Thursday, passengers who had booked morning flights, were stranded for hours at the city airport as thick fog in Delhi crippled flight movement.
Vijay Mohile, an executive with an Andheri-based company, said, “I will ask my company to conduct meetings by video conference.” He missed a business meeting on Thursday.
Both the domestic terminals looked like massive waiting lounges with hundreds of passengers staring at the flight display screens.
“Flight schedules were badly affected since Wednesday night. All were running at least an hour behind schedule,” said the Mumbai International Airport Limited authorities.
Four Delhi-bound flights from Mumbai on Wednesday evening returned to the city half way. through the journey. Another four flights heading to Delhi were also diverted to Mumbai. Officials said a Jet Airways and Indigo flight to Delhi on Thursday morning was cancelled and around 40 flights were affected.
People travelling on full service carriers had a slightly better experience compared to budget carriers because the former’s flying crew is better equipped to operate in foggy weather.
“Full service carriers are CAT III compliant and are therefore better equipped for a touchdown even in low visibility,” said Anup Kanuga, owner of Bathija Travels.