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Fog hits flights, train traffic

Fog has tripped travel plans.

Bangalore-based DTDS Travel and Tour Planner Limited has cancelled all flights from Jamshedpur to Calcutta from December 28 due to poor visibility. Services will resume sometime in mid-January.

Head of operations Captain Rakesh Saxena said over phone from Bangalore that operation of flights was not possible in such foggy weather, especially at Sonari airport that lacks proper navigational aid to assist aircraft landing in poor visibility.

The minimum visibility for an eight-seater aircraft to take off is between 1,600 and 1,800 metres. At present, the visibility in the morning is around 1,100 metre.

“We cannot take risk and have thus decided to discontinue the service for the time being. Flight services will resume after January 15,” said Captain Saxena.

DTDS Travel and Tour Planner Limited, in alliance with Bangalore-based Spirit Air, flies two eight-seater Cessna Grand Caravan flights on six days a week (except Sunday).

But, fog alone is not responsible for the disruption, the hunger pangs of airport staff have also put brakes on the services.

Sales manager of DTDS, Calcutta, Shyamal Chakraborty said they had tried to alter the timings. But, it was not feasible, as the authorities at Sonari Airport did not allow landings between 1pm and 3pm.

Why? “Because their employees have lunch break during the two-hour span,” said Chakraborty.

The news could not have come at a more worse time as most people plan a trip around this time of the year.

“With all flights cancelled, I have to go to Ranchi for flying to Calcutta from where I will head for Mumbai,” rued Amit Mishra, a bank executive in Mumbai, who has come to visit his parents at Khasmahal in Parsudih.

If Mishra is travelling all the way to Ranchi to catch a flight, local trader Rajesh Goel has been forced to cancel his Geetanjali Express ticket.

Reason? “For the last two days, the train is running way behind its schedule,” he said.

Not only Geetanjali, other trains, especially the ones coming from Delhi and Bihar, are running late due to smog.

Rail officials said fog was taking a toll on train traffic. “We have opened a counter to refund tickets and inform passengers about schedules,” said Tatanagar station manager Awtar Singh.