Winters are here, so are disruptions: Three flights cancelled, 10 delayed at Chandigarh airport
Four years after its inauguration, the Chandigarh International Airport still lacks equipment to allow aircraft to land in 50-metre visibilityUpdated: Dec 13, 2019 01:11 IST
Delay in installation of CAT-IIIB, an advanced instrument landing system, at the Chandigarh International Airport has started showing its effects.
In the first major flight disruption since the onset of winter, three flights to Dharamshala, Srinagar and Kullu were cancelled, while 11 others arrived late due to poor visibility on Thursday.
Over the past few years, several flights at the airport have remained grounded between mid-December and mid-January due to poor weather conditions, as aircraft require at least 100-metre visibility to land safely.
Currently, the Chandigarh airport is equipped with CAT-II equipment, made functional in November, which allows operations when visibility drops to 350m.
The long-pending CAT-IIIB equipment permits operations even when visibility is as low as 50 metres, making the airport an all-weather facility. But, it’s not expected before December 2020.
Air India station manager MR Jindal said, “We had to cancel the Dharamshala and Kullu flights due to poor visibility at Chandigarh. The cancellations are sure to worsen as more fog appears during winter.”
GoAir’s flight from Srinagar was also cancelled due to bad weather at the source airport, an airline official said.
Due to poor visibility hitting airline operations through winter, IndiGo airlines has already announced to suspend its Dubai flight from December 14 onwards. This is among the only two international flights at the airport, the other being Air India Express’ service to Sharjah.
HC HAS PUSHED FOR PERMISSIONS
On December 5, the Punjab and Haryana high court had also asked the defence secretary to apprise it of the proposal to install CAT-IIIB facility at the airport.
The airport operator had pointed out that permission for installation of CAT-IIIB equipment was pending with the Union defence ministry, with the Chandigarh airport being a civic as well as defence airport. The Union aviation ministry and airport operator have already cleared the proposal.
The directions came during the resumed hearing of a 2015 petition on infrastructural deficiencies at the airport.
TWO DEADLINES MISSED
Sanjeev Vashisht, member of the Chandigarh International Airport Advisory committee, said they had already missed two deadlines to make CAT-IIIB operational. “I will request the authorities concerned to expedite the permissions, as passengers have to suffer every winter due to multiple flight cancellations and delays.”
A senior officer at the airport, requesting anonymity, said once work on installing the equipment began, it would take at least six months to complete.
The international airport terminal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015. However, operations of international flights did not start till September 2016. Three years later, lack of infrastructure has kept most international airlines away.