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Dense fog disturbs flight services at Chennai airport

Dense fog has disturbed flight services at Chennai airport, where visibility has been reduced between 50 and 100 metres, in the last three days. Over 60 aircrafts took off very late or diverted to Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports during this period. This had not only created inconvenience to passengers, but also added “substantial”cost to the airlines, says industry sources.

The delays have been in the range of 3-4 hours while two international flights have been delayed by 12 hours. Around 240-260 flights were delayed for 15-20 minutes.

Almost half of the aircrafts were diverted to other airports including Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

A senior official representing a private airline said that this kind of fog is rare Chennai and termed it as ‘unusual’.

Dense fog reduces visibility to 50 metres till 6.30-7am, while it improves to 100 metres by 8-8.10 am and touches 400 metres by 10.30-11 am. Flights depart when visibility improves to more than 500 metres.

Experts noted, Chennai airport don’t have CAT III B instrument landing system (ILS) unlike Delhi. The facility can guide flights when runway visibility is lower than 500 metres.

This had disturbed the service in Chennai.

For example, most of the aircrafts are getting diverted from Chennai to Hyderabad, which means additional fuel for six hours. Since Hyderabad is a private airport handling costs are high, flight schedules need to be changed.

Airport authorities have suspended departures during the early morning hours.

Some of the flights which were diverted include Indigo Airlines (from Singapore, Kolkata and New Delhi) , GoAir (from Mumbai), Air India (from Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai) and Jet Airways (from Mumbai). Several flights arrived after a delay of two to three hours after airlines rescheduled them at their airport of origin due to poor visibility in Chennai.

Flights to various destinations including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata, which were scheduled to depart between 5.45 am and 9 am, left from Chennai after nearly 2.5-3 hours delay.

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