Dense fog disrupts flight, train operations in North India; Delhi worst hit

Published Dec 18, 2013, 3:55 am IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 12:44 am IST
Operations at Delhi airport come to a standstill, 200 flights affected; parts of North under fog attack.
Vehicles stuck in a traffic jam at the fog-covered Delhi-Gurgaon National Highway in Gurgaon on Tuesday - PTI
 Vehicles stuck in a traffic jam at the fog-covered Delhi-Gurgaon National Highway in Gurgaon on Tuesday - PTI

New Delhi: Dense fog continued to envelope IGI airport on Tuesday for the second day running as flight operations came to a standstill for four hours due to poor visibility, affecting schedule of over 200 flights and causing inconvenience to passengers.

The fog attack hit parts of North India - including Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and north-west Rajasthan - early on the day. Amritsar, Banaras and Lucknow are the worst hit areas.


Rail traffic was affected as well and many trains were delayed.

A total of 19 domestic and international flights were cancelled, seven diverted and rest were delayed by over three to four hours.

Flight operations were suspended from 5 AM till 9 AM as visibility at all the three runways dropped to less than 50 metres, the minimum required for landing under poor visibility conditions using the CAT-III B instrument landing system (ILS).

Passengers faced tough time as they had to wait for long hours either in the aircraft or at the terminal building.

As no take-offs or landing were taking place due to poor visibility, passengers were seen visiting airline counters or glued to the flight information display system (FIDS) to know the flight status. They even complained about wrong information being provided by airlines' helpline about the status of the flight.


"My Spicejet flight to Srinagar was to depart at 7.30 AM but it was rescheduled due to fog, when we called up the airlines' helpline, first they said flight was reschedule but when my brother called up again they said it had already took off from Delhi and landed in Srinagar," said Rajan Rishi, an IT professional.

The fog started to descend upon Delhi airport around midnight on Monday, it engulfed the airport Tuesday morning and became dense, reducing the general visibility to almost zero. It started to become more dense around 5 AM and visibility at the runway went below 50 metres.


Of the seven diverted flights, three were diverted to Mumbai and four to Jaipur. But most of these were diverted due to operational reasons, like use of non-CAT III B complaint aircraft and rostering of non CAT III B complaint pilot for operation in fog, airport sources said.

The minimum visibility for an aircraft to take off under low visibility conditions are between 125 to 150 metres, depending on the size of the plane. Between 5 AM and 9 AM, no flights took off nor any landed, airport sources said, adding leading to huge backlog of flights.

The cascading effect was felt till evening as many domestic and international flights were delayed, even as airport operator DIAL had this year introduced Delhi Airport Collaborative Decision Making (DA-CDM), to avoid schedules going haywires.


The DA-CDM focuses on improving the air traffic flow and capacity management at airports by reducing delays, improving the predictability of events and optimising the utilisation of resources.

Airport operators, airlines, ground handlers and air traffic control (ATC) collaborate and share data through automated system to increase overall airport efficiency, to reduce delays and congestion, and smooth flow of flight information to passengers.

As the fog started to dissipate and visibility improved around 10.30 AM, air traffic control tower started allowing take-off and landing. The ATC officials were allowing one plane to take-off between every four to five aircraft landing at the airport.


Priority in take off was give to international flights, sources said. With the flights being delayed by over two to three hours, many passengers contemplated to drop their plan to fly.

"I had an important meeting in Ahmedabad at 11 AM. Now, I am thinking of leaving the flight, there is no point waiting here. It has already been hours since we boarded it at 6:45 AM," said Ali Alwasouf, a Syrian-national and an India-based journalist, who was travelling to Ahmedabad in an IndiGo plane.

"I fly regularly for business purposes and this is the first time I got stranded. I have a ship to catch from Jamnagar, I am worried now," Captain Sanjeev Khanna told PTI.


Dr Jayesh Jani too contemplated leaving the flight as he said, "his colleagues were waiting for him at the Bangalore airport and he had a return flight from there as well in the evening." 

Road traffic also bore the brunt of the poor visibility, as vehicles moved extremely slowly in most parts of the city till around 11 AM, after which the fog dissipated away slowly. 

Met department said humidity level was as high as 100 per cent in the morning while it predicted mainly clear sky during the day. A senior Met department official said that Delhi and national capital region would witness fog or dense fog till forenoon during the week, and a partly cloudy sky on Saturday and Sunday. 


Monday, the airport witnessed winter's first fog as flight operations were halted for over two hours, leading to delays and diversions of around 140 flights.

Next: Fog hits air, rail traffic in Punjab, Haryana

Fog hits air, rail traffic in Punjab, Haryana

Chandigarh: A thick blanket of fog enveloped most parts of Punjab and Haryana today, disrupting normal life and hitting air, rail and road traffic. In Punjab, fog and mist reduced visibility to less than 50 metres at several places, including Patiala, Amritsar, Hisar, Karnal Ambala and Ludhiana.


Low visibility also hit flight operations in Chandigarh and Amritsar.

"No flight took off today as there was zero visibility due to fog," Amritsar Airport Director Suneel Dutt said.

Morning flights from Delhi to Chandigarh are behind their scheduled arrival timings because of fog, officials at Chandigarh Airport said.

Fog also cast a shadow on rail traffic at Chandigarh as departure of several trains, including the Shatabdi (New Delhi Kalka), Himalayan Queen and Bhiwani-Kalka were delayed by one and a half hours while arrival of few trains, including Allahabad-Chandigarh train was delayed by 9 hours.


Adampur in Punjab turned out to be the coldest place in the region as it recorded a minimum temperature of 2.2 degree Celsius, Met department officials said here today. Among other places in Punjab, Ludhiana recorded a temperature of 5.3 degree Celsius.

Amritsar and Patiala recorded a low of 7.8 degree Celsius and 7.6 degree Celsius respectively, they said. In Haryana, Ambala, Hisar and Narnaul had a minimum temperature of 8.5 degree Celsius, 6.6 degree Celsius and 7.3 degree Celsius, respectively.

While Bhiwani and Karnal recorded a temperature of 7.2 degree Celsius and 8 degree Celsius. Meanwhile, Union Territory Chandigarh recorded a temperature of 8.3 degree Celsius. Met department in its forecast said fog and mist will prevail during morning and night in Punjab and Haryana.