Dense fog conditions in north India have resulted in major disruptions in flight operations, leaving passengers stranded at airports. Hundreds of flights have been delayed or cancelled at major airports like Delhi and Mumbai.

According to flight tracking site Flightradar24, over 100 flights were affected on January 16 alone. The fog reduced visibility to zero between 5-9 am on January 15, prompting the suspension of flight operations at Delhi Airport.

Impact on Passengers

The flight delays and cancellations have caused massive inconvenience to passengers. Many have been left waiting in aircraft on the tarmac for hours with no information from airlines on departure times.

In one shocking incident on an IndiGo Delhi-Goa flight, a passenger assaulted the pilot in frustration over a 10-hour delay. The passenger has been arrested. IndiGo is considering a no-fly ban.

According to DGCA rules, airlines have to provide meals and refreshments for delayed flights depending on block time. For delays over 6 hours, passengers can seek full refunds or alternate flights. For overnight delays, accommodation must be provided.

New Measures Announced

To improve communications and reduce passenger woes, Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has announced new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for airlines.

  • The measures include
  • Setting up airport ‘war rooms’ for better coordination between airlines and airports
  • More CISF personnel for passenger assistance
  • Daily status reports from metro airports
  • Making the CAT IIIb runway at Delhi Airport operational to allow low visibility landings

The Minister has requested passengers to bear with the difficulties caused by fog, while assuring that passenger convenience is the priority.

Reasons for Disruptions

  • The dense fog drastically reduces visibility making takeoffs and landings risky
  • Closure of a key runway at Delhi Airport for maintenance. This has reduced airport capacity to handle flights.
  • Lack of advance planning by authorities for fog season
  • Parking bays taken up by grounded aircraft
  • Airlines’ poor communication and engagement with passengers

Key Takeaways

While some delays are inevitable due to weather, airlines need to focus on better communication, timely assistance and empathy towards passengers. Advance planning and coordination between airports and airlines can help reduce disruptions.

Passengers should be patient but also aware of their rights to seek refunds, accommodation and meals for long delays under DGCA rules. With the new SOPs in place, the passenger experience during fog and other causes of disruption can hopefully improve in the future.

 

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