The number of domestic travellers who were stranded at airports in January – when fog disrupts air traffic — fell sharply compared to the same month in 2015.
According to the data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s aviation regulator, the number of delayed fliers dropped by more than 70,000, even as the volume of domestic fliers grew by more than 22% in the month.
The data showed that around 1.16 lakh people travelling within the country were stuck at airports for more than two hours in January, down from more than 1.89 lakh in January 2015. The number of fliers facing last-minute flight cancellations almost halved from 19,869 in January 2015 to just over 11,000 this year.
A relatively warmer winter and flight crew who were better experienced to handle low visibility operations could be the reason for the fall, said experts. “Delhi recorded fewer thick foggy days this year. Also, the DGCA has been stringent with domestic airlines in training pilots in poor visibility conditions,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official, requesting anonymity.
Officials said the drop in the number of delayed fliers was particularly significant considering the rise in the total number of domestic fliers in January. From just over 62 lakh fliers in January last year, the number increased to 76.55 lakh in 2016.
The DGCA data added at least eight out of 10 flight delays in January were directly or indirectly caused by weather problems, while more than 37% flights were directly affected by poor weather. Around 48% flights missed their schedules owing to ‘consequential delays’. Such flights are those which ran behind schedule owing to earlier flights held up by bad weather, said experts.
Of the stranded fliers recorded in January more than 80,000 were booked to travel on Air India flights followed by Indigo Airlines (11,782), the data said.