What is fog?
Fog is a natural phenomenon that occurs when cold air passes over damp ground, causing evaporating water to condense at low levels.
It can often reduce visibility which affects the way Melbourne Airport operates.
It is also important to note that sometimes operations at Melbourne Airport can be affected by low cloud.
Cloud that is very low to the ground is treated the same as fog.
That means you may be able to see very far, but the pilots can’t see the runway until very late!
Why is fog an issue?
When visibility at the airport is restricted, aircraft movements need to be reduced on Melbourne Airports two runways to ensure to an additional safety buffer is provided to separate aircraft.
This reduces the number of aircraft that can arrive and depart.
Air Traffic Control will also allow greater spacing of flights on the runway, meaning fewer aircraft are able to land and take-off.
Priority is giving to landing aircraft, meaning some departures may be delayed.
High intensity lighting helps give flight crew on landing aircraft visibility of the runway, while lights on the taxiways help show pilots where they need to go.
In periods of significant fog, some crews that are less familiar with the airport layout may request a vehicle escort from the Melbourne Airport Airfield Operations team. These are called ‘Follow-Me’.
To reduce congestion on the airfield, some departures may be held at the gate until Air Traffic Control is able to facilitate their departure.
Safety is always the top priority, so please be patient and know that everyone is working hard to get you where you need to be.
The fog has cleared- so why is my flight late?
Fog typically occurs in the morning and lifts as the day progresses, but delays can continue throughout the day. The morning peak is usually affected, so recovery of the schedule takes time.
If fog has delayed an aircraft arriving into Melbourne that may result in a delayed departure.
Airlines will do their best to make up time throughout the day, but schedules
On a typical day, roughly 60% of all Australian domestic aircraft pass through Melbourne Airport before lunchtime, so delays to operations can have a ripple effect across the country.
It's not foggy in Melbourne- so what's the problem?
Fog at other airports can also cause delays to flights in and out of Melbourne Airport.
Arriving flights may be delayed at their point of departure if low visibility operations are in force.
Departures may be delayed by late arriving aircraft or Air Traffic Control, who may may request a delayed pushback from Melbourne to help manage the arrival flow if fog is an issue at the aircraft’s destination.