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Indian Airlines Directed to Comply With New Rules Affecting Disrupted Flights

New rules come after dense fog events disrupted hundreds of flights across the country.

IndiGo A321neo landing

IndiGo’s Airbus A321neo at Delhi Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Vihaan Kushwaha)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India has issued new rules to airlines with regard to the handling of fog-induced flight disruptions. This comes after the impact to passengers of several days of flight delays and cancellations due to dense fog across the country and follows a DGCA SOP (standard operating procedure) for airlines to give ‘real-time updates on flight delays.’

Indian Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia stated: “One of the things that we have done in those SOPs is that we have instructed airlines that if they think the flight will be delayed by more than three hours, they must treat that flight as canceled. So, this question of six-hour delays and eight-hour delays should now become a thing of the past.” The Times of India reported that some flights had been delayed by as much as 17 hours due to the dense fog.

According to the BBC, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) was seriously affected by the fog brought about by cold weather in northern areas of the country. DEL is the hub for India’s largest carrier IndiGo as well as national carrier Air India and though fog is not an unusual seasonal occurrence at the airport it was compounded this year by ‘parking shortages due to grounded aircraft and a runway being shut for maintenance.’ On Monday morning alone, 333 flights at DEL and 129 flights at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (HYD) had been delayed.

Operational ‘War Rooms’

The new rules regarding fog-induced flight disruptions require airlines to set up ‘war rooms’ to deal with passenger issues. Carriers must also report any incidents related to fog and other ‘adverse weather conditions.’ The Business Standard reported the aviation minister as saying that the government will take “very strict” action for violations of the new rules.

Passengers had been critical of the lack of communication from airlines and at airports during the prolonged weather event. The BBC reported that passenger frustration boiled over to an alleged assault against an IndiGo co-pilot with the assailant being arrested and later released on bail.

Many other passengers across the country posted their frustrations on social media including high profile celebrities. Accounts ranged from the emotional toll of not getting home to family, to being locked in an airbridge without access to food, water and sanitation.

“In terms of cancellations and delays, in terms of the war rooms that I have asked every airline to set up at every airport, in terms of informing passengers on SMS, email or WhatsApp — all these SOPs are being monitored by the DGCA on a thrice-daily basis,” Scindia added.

John Flett

Author

  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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