VIJAYAWADA/TIRUPATI/ VISHAKHAPATNAM: Cyclone Vardah has played havoc with air travel to Chennai and Tirupati from Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada. The flights to the two cities have been cancelled with powerful winds blowing across the two airports.
As many as 500 air passengers were stranded after the airport was shut down on Monday morning. Children and elderly accounted for 65 per cent of the pilgrims stranded in the airport. They were en route to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Air India flight number 542 from Hyderabad (1.45 pm) and two SpiceJet flights (8.30 am and 10 am) along with an Air Costa flight were forced to return after they were denied permission to land in Tirupati airport.
The Air India flight circled four times over the airport while Spice Jet flights made three rounds and Air Costa one round in the air before they returned owing to bad weather conditions, said airport authorities.
Having been stranded in the airport, M Vivek and five of his friends, VKM Babji and six of his family members hired taxis from Tirupati to Chennai, with the help of Air India staff. They did this in a bid to take their flights from the port city.
Though the airport was officially closed by 10 am, the passengers of Hyderabad-bound Air India flight (1.45 pm) waited up to 3.30 pm, expecting the air traffic to resume, but in vain.
All the 10 flight services were suspended on Monday. All the 500 passengers except those boarding SpiceJet (8 am) returned from the airport.
Two flights to Chennai operated by SpiceJet and TruJet were cancelled. Ciruclar flight from Tirupati to Visakhaptnam to Vijayawada and back to Tirupati was also cancelled. Four flights to Chennai from Visakhpatnam too were cancelled.
Airport authorities said that as of now they would not be able to say if flight operations would resume tomorrow. A decision will be taken depending on the situation, an official said.