In a relief to fliers, the Civil Aviation Ministry announced that it is working on a plan to cut down flight diversions at Delhi airport during the winter months.
“Ashok Lavasa, secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, stressed on the need to ensure that various action on the recommendations must be completed before October,” a government release stated.
The recommendations have been made by a Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) panel formed to suggest ways to reduce congestion and diversions due to fog.
The release further stated that DGCA Prabhat Kumar “has written to heads of various stakeholders to draw a definite timeline for the immediate implementation of various recommendations” before the onset of winter.
Fog during winter months impacts flight operations at the Delhi airport, leading to a lot of flight diversion to nearby airports of Jaipur, Lucknow and Amritsar, among others.
The diversions last winter reached a new peak of 143 — it was 57 in 2011 and 89 in 2012.
The DGCA panel has recommended upgrading of neighbouring alternative airports, meteorological facilities and runway radar coverage. It has also recommended that airports near Delhi such as that in Jaipur, Lucknow and Amritsar, be upgraded to Category-IIIB level of Instrument Landing System, which has a runway visibility range of 150 feet or almost near-zero visibility condition. Delhi airport is CATIIIB equipped.
A detailed standard operating procedure has been evolved to enable smooth de-boarding of passengers during a flight cancellation or delay.