The Indira Gandhi International Airport was closed for operations for nearly half-an-hour on Sunday morning due to presence of too many birds over its main runway.
Bird activity was so high at the airport's runway 29/11 that flight operations had to be cancelled between 8.50 am and 9.15 am on Sunday. At least 20 arrivals and departures were delayed by one to two hours due to the backlog of flights that ensued.
The problem was first reported around 8.50 am when a JetLite Chennai-Delhi flight (S2-252) was approaching the runway of IGI Airport.
Due to heavy bird activity above the runway, the pilot was asked not to land by the Delhi air traffic control.
The runway was then closed for operations till 9.15 am when the birds were scared away from the runway.
With the main runway 28/10 closed for repairs, the only other runway available was the smaller runway 27/09 but due to poor visibility, this runway couldn't be used either.
"Due to bad weather and rains, visibility had fallen below 2,200 metres and the secondary runway couldn't be used," said an airport official who didn't wish to be named.
"There were no operations for nearly half an hour and even after that, the backlog delayed many flights," said an airline official who wished to remain anonymous. "Thankfully, there were lesser number of flights as it was Sunday."
When contacted, a spokesperson for the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL) said, "There has been no bird activity at the Delhi Airport since morning."
During monsoon, insects and rodents come out of the ground near the runways after the rains and birds flock there to feed on them. The presence of birds near the runway is dangerous because if they hit the body of an aircraft or get sucked into the aircraft engine, the results could be disastrous.
There is not much impact if a bird hits the plane's body but when it gets sucked inside the engine it causes engine failure, which can ground the aircraft.
In July 2008, an Air Mauritius flight caught fire and passengers had to be evacuated after it suffered a bird hit at IGI airport.
The DGCA has set up a National Bird Strike Prevention Committee to tackle the bird menace at airports like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad that report the highest number of bird hit incidents every year.