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Govt. trying hard to manage air traffic delays: Praful Patel

By Manoj Kumar Ramesh

Mumbai, Dec 27 (ANI): Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Monday assuring that the authorities are trying hard to manage delays in air traffic, said the security of passengers is always on high priority.

"I repeat that if the visibility goes beyond the minimum of 50 meters, CAD 3 (Civil Aviation Department 3) operations cannot take place. It is not only in Delhi, but also anywhere in the world. Therefore, people should understand that if there is a fog, it is universal and it has shown recently in Europe and in many parts of the world where the airports have gone into utter chaos," said Patel, while launching the first 'Sea Plane' here.

"Compared to that, I think we have been able to manage the situation well and this is not something new, fog is not something that comes in at this time of the year in Delhi and many parts of north India. I will only request that while we do our best, people should also understand that there are certain things which are beyond the control," he added reacting to the reports of delays.

A heavy blanket of fog enveloped the national capital for the second consecutive day today, hitting air and rail services badly.

Ten flights have been cancelled, 20 have been delayed and 23 diverted so far. The general visibility at the airport and the city is less than 50 metres.

The RVR on Runway 28 at Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport is 200 metres while at Runway 29 it has plunged down to just 125 metres.

The passengers at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport flying to or from New Delhi also had to wait for hours.

According to the Met department, fog conditions are likely to continue in the coming days affecting flight and vehicular movement in northern region of the country.

Further talking about the fate of Air India that still lingers under a debt of about 190 billion, Patel said the Central Government is committed to the cause of ensuring a good health of Air India.

"Air India's equity infusion of 1200 crores is expected in few days and we have asked the government for further equity infusion, for the coming year also to be provided in the coming year's budget," said Patel.

"I hope the government does look at this issue favourably. I repeat it is a commitment of the government of India to ensure that the national carrier is in good health and we would like to see Air India performing better than what it is today," he added.

Patel further said they are trying to cut costs through fleet and route rationalisation.

"The planning is underway for a debt-restructuring plan to reduce the interest burden for Air India that is expected to be complete by the end of January," he said.

On the issue of recent price hikes in airfares, Patel said: "With the intervention of the government, the situation is under control." (ANI)

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