Bengaluru: The Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) has served over 20 million passengers this year, but the airport of India’s Silicon Valley has been bogged down by fog-related issues almost every winter since its inception in 2008.
For the second day in a row, dense fog disrupted the travel plans of several thousand passengers.
Experts point out that the initial studies by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) should have taken into account the possibility of fog delaying operations. This could have helped in choosing a suitable ILS before the runway was made operational. “Everyone in north Bengaluru knows that the water bodies in the area cause fog. The airport authorities must have factored this into their initial planning,” said an expert.
“The airport authorities should expedite deployment of the second runway. My advice to passengers is to not book early morning flights,” said Devesh Agarwal, an aviation expert. The second runway will be equipped with the advanced CAT III B Instrument Landing System (ILS).
Meanwhile, with the possibility of upgrading the existing runway ruled out, BIAL has put in place systems that allow for take-off with a shorter visibility range of 350 metres but the range requirement for landings remains the same.
In the meantime, people will just have to factor in fog while planning air travel during winter.
Flights delayed on Friday
On Friday, 19 flights arriving in the city between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. were delayed while nine others were diverted to Chennai. These included two cargo flights, four Indigo flights, one each of Emirates, Air Arabia and Oman Air. Operations were suspended from 05.53 a.m. to 08.50 a.m., airport officials said.
“My flight was supposed to land in Bengaluru at 08.30 a.m. but we touched down by 10. The pilot announced that we had to wait for clearance to land as several flights were ahead in the queue,” said Anju Mehta, who arrived from Mumbai.
The fog also affected departure of 35 flights bound for various domestic and international destinations. Many passengers were inconvenienced when some airlines chose to board them and kept the plane stationary waiting for clearance to take off.
“The situation at the airport was normal. We could just have been asked to wait in the terminal instead of on the aircraft, which was frustrating,” said Ramesh Sinha, who was travelling to New Delhi.
Why the fog around KIA
The fog is due to the presence of several water bodies around KIA, according to S.M. Metri, Director-in-charge, IMD, Bengaluru. “The fog clears only once the sun comes up. The situation is similar at HAL airport as well as in the city, but it is noticed more at the two airports because of the vast open space around such places as well as the nature of their operations,” he said.