It’s not the fog – directly – that is responsible for the closure of airports and paralysis of flight schedules across many cities of Punjab and KPK. Domestic and international carriers have not fallen victim to a supernatural weather phenomenon, and the fog in Lahore, Multan, Islamabad and Peshawar is not the worst the world has ever seen.
So, what seems to be the problem? It’s a difference between Category 2 and Category 3. The former is the fog navigation system the Civil Aviation Authorities are equipped with. The latter is what they should have upgraded to by now – one that is compatible with most international carriers flying to Pakistan, but (it seems to be an obvious tragedy) not with significantly older PIA planes.
Accounting for simply the loss in revenue for airports from disrupted flights, chaos because of irregular schedules of air traffic and the fact that the crippling fog is a predictable yearly phenomenon, it would make absolute sense for the CAA to invest in the upgraded fog navigation network. Even if it takes time to install the compatible technology in older PIA airplanes, the technology being made available at airports which see relatively more international traffic, such as Islamabad and Lahore, would be well worth it.
Of course, simple solutions are anathema to local authorities. Instead, money being poured into the beautification of airports, a new facility being built from scratch in Islamabad, and reports of wifi being installed on long-haul PIA flights are seen as more worthy uses of public money. The fog is not undefeatable. But it seems the national ailment of being unable to see a few yards beyond where we stand, is.