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Fog hits flight operations at Delhi airport, visibility down to zero on Christmas Eve

Fog hits flight operations at Delhi airport, visibility down to zero on Christmas Eve

Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport experienced significant disruptions in flight operations due to an intense blanket of dense fog that reduced visibility to virtually zero.

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Fog hits flight operations at Delhi airport, visibility down to zero on Christmas Eve Fog hits flight operations at Delhi airport, visibility down to zero on Christmas Eve

On December 25, 2023, Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport experienced significant disruptions in flight operations due to an intense blanket of dense fog that reduced visibility to virtually zero. 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported the onset of very dense fog early in the morning, with the Runway Visual Range (RVR) on all runways dropping between 125 to 175 meters. This necessitated the implementation of CAT IIIB operations for aircraft takeoffs and landings.

The adverse weather conditions led to a series of delays and diversions for both domestic and international flights. Airlines, including SpiceJet, issued statements alerting passengers to potential disruptions and advised them to stay informed about their flight status as the situation evolved. The IMD had predicted dense fog in the morning with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 8 degrees Celsius to a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius, with a very low chance of rainfall.

Delhi's air quality on this day remained in the 'very poor' category, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) hovering at 395.

The heavy fogs are a common occurrence in Delhi during the winter months, and residents are quite accustomed to these conditions. Despite the fog, the Delhi Airport issued a passenger advisory stating that there had been no impact on flight operations.

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The congestion at the airport was further exacerbated by the daily footfall of nearly 2 lakh passengers, with Terminal 3 alone handling between 45,000 to 50,000 passengers. The airport, which is India's largest, operates three runways and handles an average of 1,400-1,500 flights daily. Dense fog is known to reduce visibility significantly, often leading to motor vehicle accidents and challenging flying conditions for pilots. In fact, weather-related aviation accidents, including those caused by low visibility and ceilings, claim approximately 440 lives each year.

Passengers were encouraged to keep in touch with their airlines regarding any flight delays and schedule changes due to the dense fog conditions. The visibility at the airport runway was observed to be 2.5 km with no significant clouds or ceiling, and the current weather was described as hazy. Dense fog can frequently cause delayed takeoffs and landings, as it drops visibility to near-zero, affecting various types of weather including heavy rainfall with low clouds and heavy snow.

Terminal 3 of the Delhi Airport, which opened in 2010, is one of the world's largest terminals and can handle up to 40 million passengers per year. It operates all international flights, while domestic flights are operated either from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3, depending on the carrier. Despite the dense fog, the airport managed to maintain its operations without significant impact, demonstrating the resilience and preparedness of the airport authorities in managing adverse weather conditions.
 

Edited By: Atiqul Habib
Published On: Dec 25, 2023