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Fog bogs domestic private carriers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The fog in Delhi made headlines today and had a cascading effect all over the country. The scene was no different today with more flights delayed, diverted or cancelled angry passengers, hundreds of vehicles parked bumper-to-bumper on roads leading to the airport and utter chaos at terminals due to poor visibility.

The chaos in Delhi spilled over to other cities too, throwing several airports, including the ones in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bangalore, out of gear. A majority of domestic and international flights had to be cancelled or rescheduled at the IGIA, the worst hit being the CAT-III non-complaint domestic private carriers

In the morning, just 10 flights having the CAT-III (b) Instrument Landing System (ILS) were able to operate from the Delhi airport. All flights, except some CAT III (b)-enabled Indian flights, were either rescheduled or cancelled due to the foggy conditions. During the day flights of private domestic carriers, including Air Deccan, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, GoAir, Air Sahara, were hit.

As fog played spoilsport once again on Tuesday, disrupting rail, road and air traffic in the North making airline schedules to go haywire, air travellers were left stranded for hours at different airports connected with the IGIA. It was only in the afternoon that fog eased off and flights were able to take off and land.

But despite fog making headlines everyday during this time of the year and air services virtually coming to a standstill, a majority of private domestic operators have failed to train adequate number of pilots in CAT-III (b) system. Moreover, airlines have also not stationed adequate number of ILS-trained pilots at other stations due to which incoming flights in Capital get severely hit, throwing the entire schedule out of the gear.

Indian appears to be the only airline using Cat-III (b) system regularly. Even though many airlines may claim to be ILS-complaint, the fact of the matter is that a majority of other airlines are still ill-equipped to deal with fog as they are not complaint with either CAT-III (a) or CAT-III (b) ILS.

Despite IGIA having been upgraded to the CAT III (b), many airlines continue to employ aircraft and pilots that are not equipped for the system. The result is that every time the visibility dips below a certain level due to fog, which is almost every other day during this time of the year, flights are delayed and passengers put to inconvenience.

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