Though none of the Air India Dreamliners are equipped for poor visibility landings, the airline has in its winter schedule continued to fly these aircraft to Delhi during early morning and late night hours, a time when poor visibility can stall flight operations.
So when visibility fell below 550 m on Sunday morning, the three Dreamliners operating flights from London, Dubai and Shanghai had to be diverted to the city even as domestic and international flights of many airlines - including those of Air India that had aircraft and crew with CAT III compliance, which allows an aircraft to land even when the visibility on the runway is as low as 75 m - continued to land in Delhi.
The Air India spokesperson did not comment on the Dreamliner diversion issue.
"Over 700 Air India passengers who were stranded at the Mumbai airport on Sunday morning created a ruckus and staged a protest after they learnt that other Delhi flights had been landing in Delhi despite the inclement weather," an airport insider said.
"There was much confusion, especially on the flight that came in from Dubai as it had an unruly passenger on board who misbehaved with the flight attendants and tried to open the door of the aircraft after it had landed in Mumbai. The passenger was offloaded along with his two friends and handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force," the insider said.
The source said no police complaint was filed. "Around the same time, Air India ground staff had other problems at hand because the passengers of its diverted Dreamliner flights had started sloganeering against the airline," the source said.
There is a possibility of a repeat of the problem with the Air India Dreamliner flights to Delhi.
"AI Dreamliners need to do a certain number of auto lands in clear visibility before the DGCA can deem them CAT III compliant," an Air India official said. "So the airline should have operated flights into Delhi that are prone to fog delays with its CAT III compliant Boeing 777 aircraft instead."
The DGCA on January 30 cancelling six time slots of three airlines, Jet Airways, IndiGo and Spice Jet, for failure to deploy CAT III compliant aircraft during poor visibility conditions in Delhi. Time slot cancellation means DGCA refuses to allow flights to operate and land at certain airports at their scheduled hour.
T2 to be commissioned on Wednesday
T2, the new terminal at the airport, will be commissioned on Wednesday. The first flight to be handled by the spanking new terminal will be a Jet Airways departure to London scheduled at 1.20 pm. The first arrival will be an Air India flight from Singapore scheduled for a 1.35 pm landing.
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Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg
A Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner aircraft, operated by Air India Ltd., participates in a flying display on the first day of the Paris Air Show in Paris, France, on Monday, June 17, 2013.