New Delhi, Jan 16, 2024 : In an effort to tackle the recent disruptions caused by foggy weather conditions, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued fresh guidelines directing airlines to cancel flights expected to be delayed by over three hours. Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, in response to the chaos resulting from fog-related disruptions, instructed the implementation of this new protocol to ensure passenger safety and minimize inconvenience.
|Flight Delay Threshold
|Over 3 hours
|Airlines must cancel flights sufficiently in advance
|Real-time updates via websites, SMS, WhatsApp, and email
|Display of Information at Airports
|Updated information on flight delays for waiting passengers
|Force majeure events exempt from standard procedures
|SOP to be adhered to by all airlines with immediate effect
The move comes after fog wreaked havoc on flight schedules for consecutive days, leaving passengers stranded on planes, airports, and tarmacs for extended periods. To avoid overcrowding at airports and keep passengers informed, airlines are now required to cancel such delayed flights “sufficiently in advance” and provide real-time updates on flight status and expected departure times.
Scindia, who also directed Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) to expedite the operationalization of the CAT IIIB runway at IGI Airport, emphasized the importance of minimizing the impact of fog-related disruptions. The CAT IIIB runway, closed for repairs since September, will be crucial in managing flight operations efficiently.
In response to an assault on an IndiGo co-pilot due to massive delays, Scindia warned passengers against unruly behavior and assured that all stakeholders are working tirelessly to mitigate the impact of fog-related challenges. The DGCA promptly issued a new standard operating procedure (SOP) in line with Scindia’s directives.
According to the SOP, airlines must publish accurate real-time information about flight delays on their websites. They are also mandated to inform affected passengers through SMS, WhatsApp, and email in advance. Additionally, updated information regarding flight delays should be displayed at airports for waiting passengers.
The guidelines acknowledge force majeure events, allowing airlines to deviate from the standard procedures in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control. However, the SOP emphasizes the importance of adhering to these measures during prevalent fog seasons and adverse weather conditions.
“In view of the prevalent fog season and adverse weather conditions, airlines may cancel, sufficiently in advance, such flights that are anticipated to be delayed or consequentially delayed on account of such conditions beyond a period of three hours with a view to obviate congestion at the airport and mitigate passenger inconvenience. All airlines shall mandatorily adhere to the above SOP with immediate effect,” stated DGCA.
Scindia urged travelers to cooperate during this challenging period, assuring that efforts are being made to minimize passenger inconvenience. Incidents of unruly behavior will be dealt with firmly in accordance with existing legal provisions, he added.
As the aviation industry adapts to these new measures, passengers can expect better communication and more efficient management of flight schedules during adverse weather conditions.