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Why blame fog, flights late anyway

delhi Updated: Jan 17, 2009 00:49 IST
Sidhartha Roy
Sidhartha Roy
Hindustan Times
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It doesn’t take a foggy day to delay flights at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. From cabin crew reporting late and food trays not arriving on time, to missing passengers — there is a long list of reasons that delay about 250 flights at the airport every day.

Of the 600 scheduled flights that operate from the IGI Airport daily, almost half are delayed every day even in good weather conditions by 15 to 45 minutes. Some delays cross three hours.

According to data collected by IGI Airport’s operations control centre, about 110 departures and 140 arrivals are delayed at the airport each day on average.

Operational or technical delays by airlines are a major reason for delays.

“Untimely loading of baggage is a big problem, followed by repairing or replacing of aircraft parts,” said a senior airport official who is not authorised to talk to the media. “Many times cabin crew reports late, catering trucks don’t arrive on time or fuel trucks get stuck in traffic.”

Clogged toilets, stepladders going missing or fuel pumps refusing to work also add to flights being held up.

While fog is everyone’s favourite whipping boy for delays, 1,270 flights were delayed in the last six days due to reasons
other than bad weather. This is apart from the 400 flights that were affected on January 13 due to dense fog.

Missing passengers is the biggest headache for airlines. “Many passengers take their boarding passes and then don’t report for boarding. The flight gets held up because we are unable to trace, maybe, just two passengers,” said an official of a leading airline.

“We could fly without a few passengers but can’t do so due to security reasons,” he said. “As their baggage is already on board, we can’t fly without offloading the luggage and that means unloading baggage of all passengers, which would take more time.”

“Most flights are delayed because planes arrive late from originating airports,” the airport official said. This accounted for 750 delays in the last six days. “Airlines try to operate about six flights a day using one aircraft. Even if there is five minutes delay each time the flight lands and take-offs from one airport, the last flight gets delayed by 25 minutes,” the airline official said.