A thick veil of winter fog enveloped the national capital on Friday, severely disrupting air traffic and leaving hundreds of domestic passengers stranded at the Palam airport.
According to airport authorities, runway visibility at the airport dropped below normal, holding up many flights. Services to the northern sectors were the worst hit and at least 20 flights were delayed by over three hours, leading to a ripple effect.
"The drop in runaway visibility range (RVR) to below 200 meters forced us to initiate the sophisticated CAT III-B landing system around 2.40 a.m. At that time only one runway was operational," said an airport official.
Many flights of Kingfisher, Jet, Indigo, and Air Deccan for Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Jammu were delayed for over three hours. They could only depart after RVR improved at 11 am, when both runways of the Delhi airport were made operational.
"Due to bad weather, the Air Deccan flight to Jammu was cancelled. Arrivals of some international flights were also delayed," the airport official told IANS, adding that SpiceJet and Air Deccan were forced to rescheduled their flights.
He said at least seven international flights were diverted to the nearest airports.
Emotions ran high at the airport as passengers and vacationers were forced to wait for several hours, uncertain when and if their flight would take off.
According to the meteorological department, the temperature is expected to further fall in coming days and morning visibility is likely to remain low till the time it is snowing in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Train services to the capital were also affected.