PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: As temperatures plummeted, thick fog blanketed Peshawar, Punjab and northern Sindh on Friday hampering outdoor activities, particularly traffic and prompting flights to be cancelled or diverted to alternative airports.
With visibility low during the night and early morning, flights from the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar and the Benazir International Airport in Rawalpindi suffered cancellations while those arriving at these airports were diverted to Lahore, causing immense difficulties for passengers.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), while Shaheen Airlines flight NL-718 from Jeddah managed to safely land at the Peshawar airport, flight NL-785 from Dubai was diverted to Lahore. It later returned, however.
Flights NL-726 to Al-Ain, UAE, PA-283, PA-283, PA-284 to Dubai, PK-351 to Karachi and PK-660 to Chitral were cancelled, whereas another flight to Riyadh (NL-723) was scheduled to leave at 8pm on Friday evening.
In Rawalpindi, CAA Joint Director Public Relations Fariha Tahir told The Express Tribune that due to low visibility in the early hours of the morning at the airport, flights had been diverted to Lahore which has been conducting landings in low visibility and foggy conditions thanks to its new Instrument Landing System (ILS) CAT-III B facility.
“This facility is available on only two airports in South Asia (SA): one is in Lahore and the other is in New Delhi.”
She added that between 20-25 flights had been diverted to Lahore from Peshawar and Islamabad though normal service at the two airports had resumed after mid-day.
Despite the increased air traffic in Lahore, the Allama Iqbal International Airport there continued to work as per routine.
“Due to the newly installed instrument system, airplanes safely landed at the Lahore airport without any delays,” Kamran Malik, a spokesman for CAA told The Express Tribune.
Motorists advised caution
Motorists in Peshawar and in the twin cities were advised to exercise caution and to adopt safety measures to avert any mishap due to poor visibility conditions on the roads. According to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa meteorological department, visibility in Peshawar and its adjoining areas had dropped to just 15 meters and affected the flow of traffic.
But when visibility dropped to five meters, the motorway was closed for traffic. However, it was later reopened with special precautionary measures issued by the traffic police.
Several trains, which were due to arrive in Peshawar on Friday, were delayed by several hours including Khushal Express, Khyber Mail and Awami Express.
In Sindh, Nawabshah experienced fog on Friday morning between 6 to 9am. Sukkur experienced mist in between the night of Thursday and Friday from 2am till noon.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2016.