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Fog: Govt warns private airlines

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Last updated on: December 27, 2005 17:00 IST

Faced with a crisis situation following severe disruptions due to fog, the government on Tuesday warned private airlines of scrapping their flights in and out of Delhi next winter if their pilots were not trained to operate under the new landing system.

"We have told them that they should take necessary steps (including training pilots under the Instrument Landing System CAT lll-B). If they don't do so, we may consider not to give them flights in and out of Delhi in the next winter schedule," civil aviation secretary Ajay Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.

Prasad, who held meetings with representatives of all airlines this morning along with those from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India, conveyed the warning to various airlines, which had pointed out that training pilots at 'very high costs' on CAT-III B system for a short period of 2-3 weeks was not a commercially viable proposition for them.

Last week, there were severe disruptions in flight schedules with a number of flights cancelled due to thick fog conditions in the capital that led to frayed tempers and protests by angry passengers.

Noting that only Indian (erstwhile Indian Airlines) and Air India had CAT-III B enabled pilots, Prasad said if the private carriers were 'not ready to operate this Instrument Landing System in the next one year, then they should not operate flights from Delhi during this period.'

"They should take steps to respond to the situation in larger interests," he said, adding, however, that it was the commercial judgement of an airline to undertake this cost.

Observing that it was not necessary to have the entire pilot strength to be trained on CAT-III B, he said that the airlines could decide on training only that number of pilots who would be required to operate flights out of north Indian airports during this period.

Acknowledging that steps to meet the fog situation as finalised at meetings earlier were not taken by the airlines and other concerned agencies at the airports, Prasad said it would have met the needs of the stranded passengers to a large extent.

"There have been faults and we could have done better had been gone by the plans worked out earlier."

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