Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport plunged into complete darkness during peak traffic hours on Friday night. Airport operations were hampered and many international flights got delayed due to the power failure.
This is not the first time disruption in power supply has affected flight operations at the airport that aspires to become ‘world-class’ by the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The incident occurred on Friday, at 10.15 pm, when a large number of international flights arrive and depart from the airport.
After complete darkness for about a minute, the backup power supply of the airport kicked in but normal operations were hampered anyway.
Air-conditioning could not be restored till 10.20 pm and normal power supply was restored 15 minutes later.
The 20-minute disruption, however, had a cascading effect on flight movement.
“With backup supply, only the bare essentials work and other operations like the check-in system don't work,” said a senior official of an international airline who is not authorised to talk to the media. “Check-in had to be done manually. All flights were delayed by 15 minutes to one hour.”
With not much light available in the parking bays, loading and unloading of baggage was also delayed.
“The aerobridges that operate electronically were not working. There were more problems at arrival because the conveyor belts stopped working," he said. "There was no power at the airlines offices at all."
Passengers faced more trouble as less than 50 per cent of lights inside the terminals were functional and many areas were in complete darkness.
An airport source said there was no light outside the international terminal, due to which passengers had trouble in driving towards the gates.
“The high beam lights were not functioning,” he said.
Essential services — runway lights and the air traffic control tower — were not affected. The airport, which is supposed to receive uninterrupted power supply on paper, gets its power from BSES Rajdhani and also has a generator-based backup power supply.
The backup is not enough to run smooth operations at an international airport that handles over 300 flights every day.
The airport consumes three lah kilowatt of power every day. The backup gensets at the airport can generate 20,000 KW of power at any given point of time.