Unusual dense smog over the Delhi airport on Thursday greatly reduced runway visibility, forcing the rescheduling of over 30 domestic flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded for hours.
"There was no flight movement for almost one hour (7.25 am to 8.30 am)," said a Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) official.
Runway visibility was reduced to 200 meters, forcing domestic flights to reschedule their timings. The airport then put into effect its mechanism to help flights takeoff in poor light conditions, the official said.
This system was on until 9.47 am, when normalcy returned.
The poor visibility delayed the takeoff of 32 flights, while two New Delhi-bound flights were diverted to Jaipur. Twenty-five domestic and seven international flights operated during the smog hours. But no flights were cancelled on Thursday.
By early afternoon, runway visibility had improved to over 2,800 metres, helping in the smooth take off and landing of flights. However, the delays would create a backlog, affecting all schedules through the day.
The affected passengers were, of course, upset.
"It's surprising that flight schedules are getting affected by smog at this time of the year. It's frustrating to hang around the airport for hours," said Boumokesh Biswal, who had gone to the airport to see off some relatives.
Last winter, dense fog at the airport saw hundreds of flights delayed and many cancelled. On Thursday, Delhi recorded a minimum of 18 degrees Celsius, two degrees above normal.