TAMIL NADU

Rain delays flights, airport flooded

T.S. Shankar

CHENNAI: The heavy rain that lashed Chennai on Friday night had its impact on the Chennai Airport. Water entered the terminal, flooding the departure and arrival halls, and the conveyor belt area, throwing out of gear normal operations inside the airport.

Out of the four taxi tracks, only one was less inundated with water. Air Traffic Control advised pilots of various airlines to make "a precautionary landing" because of poor visibility. There was also water stagnation along the sides of the main runway.

Giving details, Chennai Airport Director, S. Subramanian, explained that passengers booked by Lufthansa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air India and the Saturday early morning British Airways flights encountered untold hardships as they found it difficult to retrieve their baggage from the conveyor belt area. Those with heavy baggage using trolleys found it difficult to wade through the water logged passenger concourse.

Trouble began around 10 p.m. on Friday when the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Duty Airport Manager conveyed to the Airport Director that water had started entering the building from the city-side. Immediately, the Airport Director alerted engineers and operational wing officers who rushed to the spot to facilitate passengers to board the Frankfurt, Mumbai, London and South East Asia-bound flights.

Inside Anna International Terminal , water logging was noticed up to the baggage scanning x-ray machines, resulting in the late departure of over 12 international flights, with delays ranging from one to three hours.

In the domestic airport, the delay in the departures and arrivals of flights ranged from one to two hours.