VIP movement once again severely affected normal flight movement at the Delhi airport.
At least 50 flights were delayed and seven had to be diverted to other airports due to acute air congestion and closure of one runway.
Air traffic was badly affected between 9.45 and 10.45 am due to the flight of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was on his way to Srinagar. Due to the PM’s flight, runway 27 was shut for normal operations between 10.15 am and 10.40 am. Though his flight took off at 10.37 am, peak hour flights were affected with only runway 29 available for operations.
Six domestic flights had to be diverted to Jaipur airport and an international Bangkok-Delhi flight was diverted to Amritsar. The congestion and backlog also meant that nearly 50 flights were delayed by hours. The diverted flights included three from Mumbai and one each from Lucknow, Chennai and Bangalore.
The diverted flights returned to Delhi between 12.15 pm
and 1 pm.
Before each VIP flight, the runways are thoroughly checked and sanitized and no other flight movement is permitted three minutes before the VIP flight. As the flight took off during the morning peak hour, the runway closure resulted in the chaos.
“There was no prior notice of the VIP movement and as a result flights running low on fuel had to be diverted. A NOTAM (notice to airmen) should have been issued so that flight schedules could have been changed accordingly,” said a senior official of an airline who didn’t wish to be named.
On May 26, there were similar flight disruptions at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport in the morning peak hour as President Pratibha Patil was flying to China and the president of Turkmenistan was flying to Agra at almost the same time.
A large number of flights were delayed and 11 flights, running low on fuel, had to be diverted.