The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flying and fog-hit' You just missed some hot fun

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The bad news: if you are flying to Delhi this winter, fog could disrupt operations at the capital’s airport for as many as 150 hours over the next three months.

The good news: Imagine belly dancers, magicians and fortune-tellers entertaining you while you twiddle thumbs and pray for the fog to clear.

Now the really bad news: The brainwave to deploy belly dancers has been shot down.

Fog warnings have forced the Delhi airport to consider out-of-the-box solutions to “handle” passengers, probably the first time such a facility has thought of in-house entertainment as an anger-management tool.

Three event management teams have been shortlisted to suggest ideas. Yoga instructors, Russian acrobats and jugglers are on the list of potential entertainers, the sources said.

“We are looking to provide entertainment,” said Andrew Harrison, the chief operating officer of the airport, now run by Delhi International Airport Ltd. “If a magician can pull out a deck of cards from behind a child’s ear, it may be interesting. People will be happy if their kids are entertained.”

The airport hasn’t forgotten grown-ups. “We are also considering adult entertainment,” Harrison said.

But the sources said brainstorming sessions by officials could not settle the question of adult entertainment. The suggestion to hire belly dancers was shot down at one such meeting. “Some officials thought the distraction may be just a tad too popular,” a source chuckled.

“There was a suggestion to have a musician playing the sarod,” an official said.

Other ideas bounced off at the sessions include tambola, video games, crossword puzzles, stress-management films and “retail therapy” with facilities to let off steam by shopping. “We have not finalised anything at the moment,” said a senior airport official. “But we are toying with many ideas.”

Perhaps unsure of passenger response, more traditional methods are also on the radar. Stress will be laid on giving comprehensive information — lack of which often drives passengers up the wall. Sixty trained customer service employees, a call centre and more payphones will be at hand to address queries.

The scramble coincided with a warning by the Met department that up to 150 hours of disruption is possible this winter. But sources said the projection was the worst-case scenario, pointing out that fog was difficult to forecast.

The “innovative” ideas are being thought up as several airlines are reluctant to train pilots to operate flights during fog using the airport’s CATIII-B system.

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