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Airlines lost crores due to fog

As many as 1,640 flights were cancelled due to bad weather since Dec 2005, with Air Deccan being worst hit.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 16:51 IST

Domestic airlines lost crores of rupees in disruptions caused by the intermittent fog, even as the winter season passed by without causing continued flight disruption as witnessed in the previous years.

As many as 1,640 flights were cancelled due to bad weather since December 2005, with low-cost carrier Air Deccan being the worst sufferer cancelling 805 services.

The total number of days on which thick fog blanket affected flights was only about a week to 10 days.

Air Deccan was followed by public sector carrier Indian, which had to cancel 351 flights and Jet Airways with 227. Air India and SpiceJet cancelled 72 flights each, while Air Sahara cancelled 64, Kingfisher 43 and GoAir six, official sources said.

Only the Indian came out with an estimated loss suffered by it due to these disruptions at Rs 1.83 crore, they said. The private carriers did not give out any detail.

Indian was also the only domestic carrier which had pilots trained to use the CAT-III B Instrument Landing System, along with Air-India and the international carriers could utilise these system installed in Delhi by the Airports Authority of India.

Under the prevailing rules, only trained pilots who are authorised by the
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) can use the CAT-III system during fog.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has already warned the private domestic airlines that if they do not have trained pilots by the 2006 winter, they would not be allowed to operate from Delhi or other airports, which are affected by fog.

The DGCA has also been coordinating with various airlines to expeditiously train their pilots.

Meanwhile, the DGCA has reported that there is a shortfall of 880 commercial pilots in the country, with the projected requirement in the next five years as given by new and upcoming airlines being as much as 4,800.

The shortfall has occurred despite the DGCA enhancing the retirement age of commercial pilots from 60 to 65 years.

Indian carriers have placed major orders to acquire about 300 aircraft, which would be inducted in the next five to seven years.

As per the latest forecast by the AAI, the total passenger traffic handled by all Indian operational airports would increase from 59.3 million in 2004-05 to 76.2 million in 2006-07.

This figure would go up further to 109.2 million passengers, including foreigners, by 2010-11, the AAI projections showed.

First Published: Feb 26, 2006 11:14 IST