The season of fog and flight disruptions has begun. Dense fog enveloped the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) on Tuesday morning, delaying flights by more than three hours. The MET department has forecast similar conditions for Wednesday.
Three outgoing flights were cancelled: a SpiceJet flight to Varanasi and Air Deccan flights to Amritsar and Jammu. Six incoming flights were diverted to Jaipur, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.
Regular operations began around 10.30 am but the logjam in the morning had a ripple effect that lasted all day; some evening flights were delayed for over three hours.
Since runway visibility was below 100 metres, only those aircraft compliant with the CAT III-B Instrument Landing System could touch down. This meant only international carriers and two Indian (Airlines) flights operated in the fog.
Last winter, the civil aviation ministry had warned private airlines that unless they trained their pilots to operate CAT III-B-compliant aircraft, they would not be allowed to fly in and out of the Capital. But the carriers have done little about it.
A spokesperson for Jet Airways said its aircraft were equipped with CAT III B but the pilots were still undergoing training. Spokespersons for Air Sahara and SpiceJet said their aircraft were just CAT II-compliant. Unlike CAT III-B-equipped aircraft which can operate in a visibility range of 50-200 m, CAT II can operate only in a visibility range of 350 m and above.
Kingfisher and GoAir claimed they had "adequate" number of CAT III-B-compliant aircraft.