Sunday 23 January 2022
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Chennai airport pre-empted Cyclone Vardah

New Delhi: Within 24 hours of striking Cyclone Vardah, operations at the Chennai airport were resumed at 0545 AM on 13 December.

Operations were under suspension for nearly 22 h with effect from 09.15 h IST of 12 December. Twenty-five incoming flights, including those from international destinations, had been diverted to the nearby Hyderabad and Bangalore airports. Besides, nearly 25 outbound flights were delayed in that duration.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) cancelled the arrival of all flights and departure on Monday. There was no damage to the runway.

On receipt of a weather warning from the Indian Meteorological Department at 0700 AM IST on 12 December about a severe cyclonic storm Vardah progressing towards Chennai, predicting gusty winds and heavy rain, the airport director and senior officers of airport operation and the Air Navigation Services of the AAI disseminated the warning to all airlines and other stakeholders at the airport for possible action as per the standard operating procedures and contingency plans.

Chennai airportAs a precautionary measure, 46 scheduled flights were despatched from the ground considering the past experience during the last flooding of Chennai in December 2015. All small aircraft were also moved inside the hangar for safety. All aircraft, passenger boarding bridges, ground handling equipment and vehicles of the operational area were securely moored and safely parked.

All the essential facilities were brought back to function in spite of a totally disrupted power supply from the State Electricity Board. High-speed winds and non-availability of power supply had earlier forced the stopping of radar antennae and switching off of navigational aids.

The AAI successfully implemented the contingency plan by employing additional safety margins for separation standards during the entire period resulting in smooth operation of overflying aircraft. Before resuming operations from the Chennai airport, several rounds of inspections and meetings were held with stakeholders and after the improvement in weather; the total Airport operations resumed and normalised.

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