The worst fog of the last eight years has affected the schedule of over 600 domestic and international flights at Delhi airport, causing inconvenience to thousands of travellers.
Airport had witnessed the second longest duration of dense fog conditions in last eight years, which led to suspension of flight operations for about three hours on Sunday night.
A total of 463 flights were delayed, 52 diverted and 140 cancelled due to poor visibility due to dense fog, between 1am of Sunday night and 12 noon Monday, airport officials said.
The heavy blanket of fog forced authorities to suspend flight movement at the IGI Airport for around three hours on Sunday night, leading to delay and diversion of around 150 domestic and international flights.
Between 8pm Sunday night and 8am Monday morning, around 150 flights, either arriving in Delhi or departing from here have been cancelled or diverted due to extremely poor visibility at the airport due to dense fog, an airline official said.
As operations remained suspended, it led to cascading effect on the schedule of other morning flights and finally a large number of flights had to cancelled, the officials said, adding even the airlines were clue less and where finding themselves to handle the situation.
A SpiceJet flight from Goa to Delhi, with 132 passengers and four crew on board, had to make an emergency landing at around 9.50pm as it ran short on fuel.
"Due to runway visibility range falling below 50 meters there were no flight operations on third runway (11/29) between 2100 hours to 0400 hours while on main runway (10/28) CAT IIIB conditions prevailed from 2030 hours to 0400 hours," DIAL said.
"We were left with no option but to cancel the flights, as there were huge number of flights got delayed due to diversions after they were unable to land at Delhi in poor visibility," the airline official said.
Lounges at the airport were packed with passengers who complained that they were not given information about the flight status.
Long queues were seen at airline counters for collection of refunds for cancelled flights or to get a seat on any early flight.
Around 15 flights coming to Delhi were diverted to Amritsar.
People could be seen moving from one counter to another in search of information or tickets.
"I had to wait for about three hours before the airline decided to cancel my flight to Mumbai. Now I am waiting in the queue to get a refund," said Anil Kumar.
But gradually visibility on the third runway, (29/11) also started to improve and both the runway were used intermittently, they added. Delhi had been witnessing dense fog from Saturday last, which, according to the Met Department, is the "season's worst".
Jenamani said this was the second longest fog spell after January 3, 2010. Meanwhile, airlines have tried to contain the huge backlog of passengers stranded at various places. SpiceJet has decided to deploy two extra aircraft to clear the huge backlog of passengers.