Dabolim runway closure to severelyaffect charter flights



The Navy’s notice to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and aircraft operators regarding closure of the runway at Dabolim airport for six hours for a period of 69 days has upset the AAI authorities as the chartered flights will be severely affected.

According to sources in the civil aviation industry, the Indian Navy has issued a notice to the AAI and the aircraft operators for taking up the repair works of the shoulders of the recently re-carpeted and resurfaced runway of the Dabolim airport. In view of the work to be taken up, the runway will be closed for flying operations from 10 pm to 4 am for 69 days from October 1 to November 29.

The AAI authorities and aircraft operators are disturbed as the charter season is about to start. Airport director K Srinivasa Rao said that the restriction on flying operations would affect the entire charter season, which will start from October 4.

“During this season, AAI authorities have received a poor response from the chartered operators. The number of flights registered for the ensuing tourist season at Dabolim airport has dropped to 662 from the 864 which were registered for 2014-15 and 1147 for the year 2013-14,” Rao said and added that the commercial flying operations would be affected to a great extent.

Stating that the Navy has not taken the AAI and aircraft operators into confidence before issuing the notice, Rao said that the closure of runway for six hours would lead to diversion of aircraft and even change in schedule of the chartered flights. “Navy should have intimated AAI and aircraft operators about their decision in advance,” he said and added that they were made aware of the notice from the central agencies.

Rao said that Qatar Airways, Air Arabia and other operators’ chartered flights will be severely affected and forced to bear huge losses during the period of closure of the runway as they will have to arrange for accommodation of passengers and such other facilities.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that hotel association members and aircraft operators have met the Defence Minister in order to apprise him of the notice limiting the flying operations at Dabolim in view of the repair work.