The Capital’s air travellers faced maximum flight disruptions in December with least number of domestic flights making it on time. This has been revealed in an annual report by the airport operator DIAL on the On-Time Performance (OTP) of domestic airlines. According to the report, 79% flights were delayed due to ‘reactionary reasons’ or late arrivals while only 13% were delayed due to weather conditions like fog.
Last month, the operator had prepared a report on the flight operations from November 30 to December 3 when over 900 flight were disrupted. Hindustan Times had reported on December 14 that airlines, and not fog, were largely to blame for the disruptions.
“In December, only 64% of the departing flights operated on time. Spicejet‘s OTP was highest at 70%. The average OTP of arriving flights was 54%, second worst after June, when it was 29.28%. The other reasons for delay include passenger and baggage handling, aircraft and ramp handling, technical, automated equipment operations and air traffic flow management,” an airport official said, quoting the report. If a flight departs 15 minutes after the scheduled time, it is considered delayed.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, which recorded 55 million passengers last year, has a long runway and equipment to assist instrument landing systems in extreme low visibility. In foggy conditions, airports and aircraft use sophisticated landing systems with pilots trained to deal with low visibility, technically known as Category-III or CAT-III, which has three classifications.However, the airport operator’s reports have revealed that airlines are not prepared to land in low visibility. “There have been instances where airlines were found using CAT-III non-compliant planes for flights to Delhi during dense fog,” a DGCA official said.
A Spicejet spokesperson said that airline has been consistently topping the OTP charts in the metros for the past three months in a row. The airlines, however, have been contesting the authenticity of OTP data. Both Indigo and Spicejet have approached DGCA to investigate the manner in which the OTP data is collected at different airports. Meanwhile, reacting to the OTP report about “reactionary delays” Indigo airlines said, “These are due to the late incoming aircraft from other stations where visibility is down and there are no modern landing systems to allow low visibility operations — such as Chandigarh, Gauhati, Imphal, Bangalore, Srinagar, Jammu — as well as late incoming aircraft that touches highly congested airspace such as over Mumbai and Goa.”
In 2015, January was the worst month for passengers with only 57% flights departing on time from Delhi, while in December, 77% flights departed on time.