New Delhi: India’s aviation regulator has warned airlines not to cancel flights during the fog-heavy December-February season.
“You are not expected to make mass changes to your schedule from the point of the consumers,” Director General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan told airline representatives in a meeting on Wednesday on fog preparedness. “Airlines must ensure that passengers are provided basic amenities along with provision of food at alternate airports in case of diverted flights.”
Several flights are cancelled at airports in north India every year during the season because of low visibility.
But airlines are also known to cancel flights owing to low occupancy or citing technical glitches. In August, Indian carriers cancelled 1.2% of about 15,000 weekly flights. Of these, 39.6% were owing to technical problems, 25.5% for miscellaneous and 13.3% for commercial reasons. Only 8% were due to weather-related issues.
Air India Ltd, Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, SpiceJet Ltd, IndiGo and GoAir all have flights from Delhi airport, a key casualty of blinding fog every year.
The warning comes after Kingfisher cancelled 50 flights for 12 days till 19 November without seeking the permission of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA), which has slapped a show-cause notice on the airline.
DGCA has asked airlines to post senior-level officers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi during the fog period to assist passengers.
Airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bhubaneswar and Amritsar have been asked to be open for longer durations in anticipation of diverted flights. Last year, three airports were kept prepared to handle diversions.
DGCA has asked foreign airlines as well to provide information on delays to passengers in time and to offer amenities at the point of call if flights are diverted.