Thursday, February 25, 2021

Congestion is back, flights queue up above Chennai

Chennai: It was 10 minutes past 8pm on Wednesday. There were six flights queuing up to land at Chennai airport. As two Bengaluru flights approached one behind the other from the west, a flight from Delhi from the north joined the queue ahead of them followed by a flight from Lucknow.

A Kolkata-Coimbatore flight overflew the airport at 37,000ft. The descending flights landed one after the other from the Pallavaram side on the main runway, while a couple of planes took off towards the Guindy side of the main runway.

The city's airspace is not free like it used to be a few months ago. Pilots flying into the city during peak hours have started to find the skies crowded and a few of them are made to wait 5 minutes-10 minutes for their turn to land. At a time, 6 to 10 flights are descending to land, climbing to reach cruising altitude or overflying. Of course, it used to be 15 to 20 flights in pre-Covid times.

However, the days have started to become hectic for air traffic controllers who have to keep an eye on planes bound for Bengaluru too. More than 14 flights have started to queue up for landing during peak hours in Bengaluru and they are routed to the airport by Chennai.

"There is high departing traffic in the morning and arriving traffic at night. The 7.30pm to 8.30pm period is the busiest over the city when more than six to eight flights will be queuing up to land. If there is a delay on the ground, the planes in the air are kept on hold. We are reaching the pre-Covid level of congestion but Chennai is not as bad as Bengaluru. In those days, planes used to be on hold for 40minutes or so. We may reach that level very soon," said a pilot.

25/02/21 Times of India

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