Nearly 1,500 people are stranded at Chennai airport as flight operations were suspended for most part of Monday and will continue to remain so until 9 a.m. on December 5 as heavy rain and winds lashed the city due to Cyclone Michaung.
Hundreds of passengers spent anxious moments, either trying to reach the airport or leave for their residences. Many were left deeply disappointed that their flights were cancelled.
Around 300 flights were cancelled and 23 flights from destinations, including Mumbai, Abu Dhabhi, Dubai, Bahrain, Colombo and Frankfurt were diverted to Bengaluru airport early on Monday morning.
Officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI) said strong winds made it difficult for the flights to land from early on Monday. Though a few flights began landing for a brief period, as the intensity of rain and winds turned severe, the airport first suspended the arrival operations for two hours, between 9.17 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. While passengers hoped that there would be some respite, officials announced that they would stop the entire flight operations till 11 p.m. on Monday.
“The taxiways had quite a bit of waterlogging and with the severity of the winds and rain, it wasn’t possible to handle flights. We are making arrangements to provide food for passengers who are stranded within the airport,” an official said.
Later in the day, as the airport continued to be shut, many passengers left the airport by private transport, Chennai Metro Rail and buses. “We arranged a few buses to drop them off at Tambaram, Koyambedu and Chennai Central. There were also quite a few passengers who stayed in nearby hotels,” he added.
In 2015, Chennai airport was shut for the first time for a couple of days following waterlogging on the runway.