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Schedule of more than 300 flights affected

The cold may be waning a bit, but fog continues unabated.

delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2010 23:44 IST
HT Correspondent

The cold may be waning a bit, but fog continues unabated.

On Tuesday, dense fog affected the schedules of nearly 300 flights at Indira Gandhi Airport (IGIA). In a grim forecast, the Met department says this season’s blanket could turn out to be the worst fog in many years.

There were no almost no flight operations from IGIA for five hours on Tuesday morning, leading to massive delays.

At least 200 flights were delayed by four to eight hours and 25 flights had to be diverted. Fifty flights were cancelled and 26 flights rescheduled.

“Tuesday witnessed one of the most intense fog spells in the entire season,” said R.K. Jenamani, Director-in-charge of the IGIA met unit. “Visibility remained below 75 metres from 5.30 am to 10.30 am.”

Though visibility improved after 11.30 am, Delhi’s airspace was closed due to the Republic Day fly past.

“We have already witnessed 150 hours of dense fog this January and with the fog spell continuing, the record 168 hours fog from January 2003 could get broken,” Jenamani said. With a western disturbance approaching and no wind movement to blow the fog away, the fog will haunt the airport for some time to come, he said.

On Tuesday, fog started to descend at the airport in the early hours and began to thicken around 5 am, reducing the general visibility to less than 50 metres, while runway visibility was reduced to around 250 metres. Within an hour, the runway visibility dropped to 75 metres and by 7.30 am it deteriorated to 50 metres.

With the low take off minima set at 150 metres, there could be no departures in the morning. “Our first flight takes off at around 6 am but no flights could depart till 10.30,” said an Air India official who didn’t wish to be named. “The visibility was very poor for landings also.”

With airport operations closed for five hours, the congestion had a cascading effect on evening flights too. Visibility too started deteriorating after 8 pm with runway visibility dipping below 250 metres.

Trains operations too were affected on Tuesday with 51 trains running behind scheduled and 29 trains rescheduled.