In a relief to passengers flying in and out of New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), the country's civil aviation ministry has said that new measures will be implemented by October this year to make sure that there will be no more flight diversions due to winter fog. The plan is to make IGIA a zero diversionary airport soon.
Among the 27 recommendations given by a committee set up under the Director General of Civil Aviation in January this year that are now being adopted, all operators, including foreign airlines, shall deploy only Cat IIIB compliant aircraft along with qualified flight crew during winter season to/from IGIA.
Operators must ensure adequate capacity build-up in terms of aircraft capability and crew qualification well in time before the onset of next fog season. All scheduled airlines shall provide their detailed Cat III status indicating aircraft and crew numbers through a consolidated return to DGCA every year, an official statement said.
Meanwhile, alternate airports near IGIA, such as Jaipur, Lucknow and Amritsar will be upgraded to Cat IIIB level, while weather monitoring equipment will also be upgraded in Delhi. Measures will also be taken for reducing vehicular traffic at IGIA during low visibility operations.
The committee had been tasked with making sure that Delhi can become a zero diversionary airport without compromising safety of aircraft operations, to prepare a comprehensive document on low visibility operations defining duties and responsibilities of all stakeholders, and to look into the specific issues pertaining to international operations and modalities to deal with stranded passengers during low visibility conditions.
The Committees recommendations relate to India Meteorological Department, Airports Authority of India, Delhi International Airport Ltd, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, DGCA and various airlines. The secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ashok Lavasa, in a meeting with all stakeholders emphasised to ensure that various actions on the recommendations must be completed before October this year, the statement said.
During the last three winter seasons, IGIA has witnessed a total of 289 diversions - 57 in 2011, 89 in 2012 and 143 last year. The Committee has also given recommendations for setting up of a procedure for dealing with stranded passengers if the flight is delayed or diverted at Delhi and other alternate airports.