Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport virtually remained shut for more than seven hours during peak time as the season's worst fog engulfed the airport and the city on Friday.
Schedules of both domestic and international flights went haywire as the runway visibility dropped to near zero. A total of 300 flights were delayed on Friday with the delay time ranging from five hours to 12 hours. Forty four flights were cancelled and 30 flights (19 domestic and 11 international) were diverted to nearby airports. Of this, 17 were diverted to Jaipur.
Among the passengers whose flights were diverted to Jaipur was Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, as visibility dipped to near zero at the airport.
"The situation was very bad. At 4 am, the visibility dropped to below 50 metres and operations were suspended. The situation improved after 11 am but there was a long backlog and almost every flight operating to and from Delhi was affected," said a senior airport officer.
"I have been waiting for my flight to Kathmandu to depart for the last 4 hours but there has been no information from the airline's side. They should at least inform us when our flight would take off," said Rupesh Ahuja, a passenger taking a Spicejet flight.
"My friend is coming from Singapore but we were informed that the flight has been diverted to Jaipur. The airport authority should have made some arrangements for those who have come to receive their relatives," said Katree Wilson, an Australian national.
Inside the terminal, utter chaos ruled as passengers of over 200 flights were waiting for updates about their flights. Officials of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), however, said that there were "elaborate arrangements" to accommodate stranded passengers.
"During those seven hours, all flight operations were affected as the RVR of runway 29 and 28 were lower than the prescribed minimum for flying in Cat III B conditions (below 50 m). During this time, DIAL's management took all possible steps to reduce passenger inconvenience and provided information through FIDS at the terminal, call centre and IGIA website," a DIAL spokesperson said.
As the airport witnessed the season's worst fog, senior officers of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) paid a surprise visit to Terminal 3 and pulled up two airlines who had forced passengers to sit in the plane.