Dense fog delays 250 flights as Delhi shiversUpdated: Jan 22, 2020 22:26 IST
The national capital remained engulfed in dense fog Wednesday morning when visibility remained zero till 8am disrupting flight operations at the Delhi airport where over 250 flights were delayed and five diverted. Officials at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport said the number of flight delayed was also higher than usual because of airspace closure following Republic Day rehearsals. Meanwhile, level of air pollution also increased in the city because of fog, which is likely to thin out by Thursday, weather scientists said.
IGI official said five incoming flights had to be diverted because of low visibility at the airport as the pilots were not CAT-3 compliant. “Between 4am and 7am only CAT-3 compliant flights were allowed to land. Take-offs continued, but with a delay as airspace had to be closed for Republic Day rehearsals,” said an officer not authorized to speak to the media, adding that the backlog was expected to be cleared by late Wednesday night, when frequency of flights is lower.
Another airport officer said they made special arrangements to minimize inconvenience to passengers stranded by the delays. “We have enhanced the seating capacity in waiting areas inside terminals, marshals have been deployed to manage traffic, additional counters have been set up at immigration, real-time flight updates are being made available inside terminals and airlines have been told to deploy sufficient staff to deal with passengers,” the officer said.
Some airlines also took to Twitter to update their passengers.
The dense fog also kept the air quality in the ‘very poor’ zone on Wednesday, with the air quality index (AQI) settling at 370, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
Kuldeep Srivastava, head of India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s regional weather forecasting centre, said level of pollution was rising because of fog, which was making the air dense, trapping pollution particles closer to the ground. “A dense fog cover and slow winds pushed the air quality in ‘very poor’ zone for the second consecutive day Wednesday. The AQI at 3pm was 368. The change in wind direction to Easterly brought moisture resulting in formation of fog,” Srivastava said.
He, however, said that an improvement in the air quality began from Wednesday evening. “On Thursday, the northwesterly winds will return with expected speed of 20-23 kmph,” Srivastava said.
Meanwhile, city’s minimum temperature Wednesday was 7.1°Celsius, three notches below season’s average. The maximum recorded at the Safdarjung observatory, considered city’s official recording, was 17.9°Celsius.
According to the Union ministry of earth science’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), the PM10 (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometres) was 319 while the PM2.5 (with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) was 177.
“The air quality is likely to stay in the higher end of ‘poor’ to lower end of ‘very poor’ category. However, a sharp increase in wind speed is likely to flush out accumulated pollutants,” the SAFAR forecast read.