Air travel to Ladakh curtailed

New Delhi: Poor visibility conditions may bring an end to all the trips via air to Ladakh as the union of Air India (domestic) pilots has asked its members not to operate flights to Leh.

AI, Jet and GoAir are among the Indian carriers that fly to Leh. 

A private airline’s complaint against AI and another airline for landing in Leh without meeting the minimum visibility conditions of this high altitude airport made the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) to take this move.

“Flights to Leh almost never meet all the safety requirements as set by the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) and this is one of the worst kept secrets of Indian aviation. Still all pilots risk their licences to fly there as flights are the only fast way of connecting Ladakh to rest of India and in winters the only link with the country as highways are closed. There are instances when a sick patient has to be flown out of Leh or critical supplies are required to be flown in there,” said a senior pilot.

High altitude, hostile terrain and low clouds mean that a pilot cannot position himself to land by getting a visual contact of the runway. Also, after 11 am Leh has very strong tailwinds. So the window of operations — even in good weather — is limited till about noon. 

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