Chill weather hits late night, early morning flights

By DECCAN CHRONICLE | G Babu Jayakumar and P A Jebaraj

29 January 2023

Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning alone, six flights were cancelled at the Chennai airport

Chennai: The bone-chilling cold, persisting even after January has come almost to a close, has started affecting flight services in Chennai and other places as air passengers were not prepared to travel in the early morning and late night hours in the inclement weather conditions, impelling airlines to cancel flights citing low occupancy.

Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning alone, six flights were cancelled at the Chennai airport. The Indigo Airlines flights to Hyderabad (9 pm) and Kolkata (10 pm) were suddenly cancelled on Friday night and similarly Indigo Airlines services to Chennai from Hyderabad, which was to land at 1.15 am, and the Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Colombo, which normally lands and 2 am and then leaves for Colombo at 3.30 am, were cancelled.

Since large-bodied aircraft with seating capacity of 168 passengers are operated in these sectors, the airlines are reluctant to fly just 20 or 30 passengers in a trip. So they make alternative arrangements for the booked passengers to reach their destinations and cancel the scheduled flights, sources said.

When asked if they could switch to smaller aircraft like the ATR variety on the days when the passengers were few, airlines authorities claimed that it was easily said than done as several agencies like the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) would have to clear such moves. Besides, operating small aircraft at night that too in misty weather conditions was not safe, they said

However, sources in the weather office said that the weather recorded in Chennai was 22 degrees Celsius on Friday night and 23 degrees Celsius on Saturday early morning, when the visibility was four km. Flights could land and take off without any hitch in such weather conditions but it was only because of passengers’ perception that many avoid travelling in those hours.

In other airports like Hyderabad, Colombo and Kolkata, too, the weather has dropped of late putting off people from venturing out of their homes during the cold spell and that had contributed to the many flight cancellations.    

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