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Night fog leaves fliers stranded

Hundreds of passengers bound for Calcutta were stranded at various airports as dense fog prevented aircraft from landing at the city airport late on Tuesday.

Nine city-bound flights, including four international ones, had to be diverted as visibility at the airport started dipping after 10pm because of fog.

Air India’s flight from Dhaka was diverted to Nagpur while China Eastern Airline’s flight from Kunming returned after failing to land in the city. An AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur and a Qatar Airways flight from Doha were diverted to Yangon.

The domestic flights were diverted to Bhubaneswar and Nagpur.

Runway visibility improved around 5am. “Morning flights operated on schedule,” said an airport official.

An Air India flight from Dhaka that took off at 10.06 pm had to be diverted to Nagpur. “The flight was initially delayed by more than an hour. We, finally, reached Nagpur at 12.15am but were not allowed to get off,” said Ashish Ghatak, who works in a Chennai firm.

Ghatak, who went to Dhaka on work and was returning to Chennai through Calcutta, alleged that the crew behaved rudely when the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft in Nagpur.

“After lengthy arguments, we were allowed to get off. We were promised that refreshments would arrive in 15 minutes. But till 3.30am nothing came,” alleged Ghatak.

Some snacks came around 3.30am but passengers refused them. “We spent the entire night sitting at the terminal. At 7am, we were served breakfast,” recounted Ghatak.

The flight was supposed to leave Nagpur at 6am but got stuck because of the flight duty time limitation norm. Under the norm set by the directorate-general of civil aviation, pilots cannot fly beyond prescribed flying hours.

The flight finally took off at 10am. “We did our best for the passengers despite constraints,” said an airline spokesperson.

At Calcutta airport, too, passengers were stranded. Behala resident Rathindranath Maji was part of a group of 98 on their way to Kuala Lumpur on a leisure trip.

Since the AirAsia flight to Calcutta was diverted to Yangon, the passengers bound for Kuala Lumpur were stranded in Calcutta.

The group arrived at the airport’s new terminal around 9pm and the flight was to take off at 1.45am.

There was some confusion as the flight information display boards showed that the flight had been cancelled. “Airline officials assured us that the flight would leave. Finally, around 4am, we were told that the flight had been diverted,” recounted Maji.

The flight finally took off around 3pm, said an airport official.