The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sunday of disrupted schedules
- Season’s worst fog cripples flights, train services for hours

Calcutta woke up to the season’s worst fog and worst disruption of flight and train schedules on Sunday morning.

No flights could operate from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport for four hours — from 6.10 am to 10.10 am — as the runway remained engulfed in fog.

Ten city-bound flights, including two international ones, had to be diverted.

“All morning flights from Calcutta were delayed by four hours on an average,” said an airport official. Among the affected airlines were Air-India, Indian, Air Sahara, Jet, Kingfisher, Air Deccan and IndiGo.

Three flights took off from Calcutta — the last at 5.30 am — before fog took over the runway. At 6 am, visibility was as low as 50 m, forcing the authorities to cancel all operations.

The Category II B Instrumental Landing System, meant to ensure normal operations in low visibility, has been installed at the airport, but is yet to be made functional. “The directorate-general of civil aviation is finalising the formalities,” an official said.

Visibility rose to 500 m at 9.30 am and 800 m at 10 am. A Calcutta-Delhi flight of Jet Airways was first to take off after the fog lifted, at 10.16 am.

A Druk Air flight from Paro and a Kingfisher flight from Mumbai had to be sent back, while Air-India’s Haj flight from Jeddah was diverted to Nagpur. IndiGo flights from Delhi and Mumbai were diverted to Guwahati, as were Indian’s Mumbai and Bangalore flights. All landed in Calcutta later in the day.

Several local and long-distance trains on both Sealdah and Howrah divisions, too, were delayed. The New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express arrived three hours late, New Delhi-Sealdah Rajdhani Express by an hour, Kalka Mail by five hours, Amritsar Mail by four hours and the Mumbai-Howrah Mail, via Allahabad, by seven hours.

On South Eastern Railway, the Mumbai-Howrah Mail, via Nagpur, arrived three hours late, as did the Puri-Howrah Express and the Chennai-Howrah Mail.

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