Marketing professional Anuj Pillai cancelled a business meeting in Bangalore after rescheduling it twice on Thursday because his flight from Mumbai was delayed by more than two hours owing to fog in Bangalore.
Now, the Nerul resident has decided to avoid early morning flights to metro cities witnessing fog delays. "I realised that the flights post the morning peak hours (6 am to 8 am) were largely on schedule," said the 31-year-old employee of a city-based pharmaceutical company.
With several business travellers such as Pillai skipping early morning flights out of Mumbai, travel agents expect flight fares between 9am to 11am to rise in the next few days.
"Among low cost carriers, only one airline's domestic fleet is 100% fog compliant. Among full-service carriers, none of the airlines are fully fog compliant. Passengers are avoiding early morning flights to fog- affected destinations such as Delhi and Bangalore," said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson said, arrivals and departures between Mumbai and metros such as Delhi and Bangalore were delayed by an hour on average on Friday. "Early morning delays have a cascading effect on the day's flight schedule," he said. On Friday, at Delhi airport, three flights were cancelled, four diverted and 65 delayed due to thick fog.
Travel agents said that since most business fliers travel during the morning peak hour of 6am to 8 am, the switch in travel time could make flights in the next two hours expensive. "Since the season has just begun, delays and disruptions are likely to get worse. Getting tickets during the second half of the morning could be difficult or expensive," said Pradip Lulla, chairman and managing director, Cupid Travels.