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Flight delayed? Blame airport too

If your flight is delayed at the Delhi airport, don't blame the airline alone. An audit of Indira Gandhi International Airport carried out last week by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the country’s civil aviation regulator, points at many shortcomings at the airport that is affecting the on-time performance of airlines.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2011 23:56 IST
Sidhartha Roy

If your flight is delayed at the Delhi airport, don't blame the airline alone. An audit of Indira Gandhi International Airport carried out last week by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the country’s civil aviation regulator, points at many shortcomings at the airport that is affecting the on-time performance of airlines.

One of the major issues, the audit found, was the shortage of fuel bowsers (tankers) required to fill planes parked at the bay. “Nearly 280 planes are refueled at the airport every day and the number of bowsers required for the job should be between 40 and 45. There are, however, just 20-odd fuel bowsers,” said a senior DGCA official. DIAL, however, said they had 37 bowsers which are adequate. “Many times bowsers are not vacated by aircraft in time which delays flights,” said DIAL's CEO PS Nair.

“We have requested airlines to vacate the bowsers as soon as possible.”

Another problem, mainly at Terminal 3, is the frequent changing of parking bays allotted to aircraft by Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL). "The flight parking arrangements are provided to airlines a day before by DIAL," said a senior official of a domestic carrier.

"If a flight is delayed or has a technical problem, the bay is allotted to another aircraft. However, DIAL also changes bays frequently without any apparent reason," he said.

The last-minute changing of parking bays means aircraft take time in moving to the new slot, which means more delays.

"The problem is with the handling of parking bays at the Airport Operations Control Centre (AOCC)," the DGCA official said.

"There would be no changing of parking bays if all flights come on time as per the advance planning, but the ground reality is quite different," Nair said.

"Flights can be delayed due to a variety of reasons and bays are changed on the behest of airlines only," he said.

The operation and maintenance of aerobridges at Terminal 3 has also become a headache for airlines.

"The aerobridge operations are outsourced by DIAL to another agency, which don't have trained manpower," the official said.

"As a result, aligning aircraft with aerobridges takes time and delays the boarding process."

Recently, a Kingfisher aircraft was damaged by a faulty aerobridge.

"We only induct those people to operate aerobridges who go through training and tests and have appropriate accreditation," Nair said.

He said 'stray incidents' might occur but overall there is not much problem.