Shut Runway for Shorter Duration: Airport Authority to Indian Navy

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Panaji:  The Navy's decision to shut down the runway at Goa airport for eight hours over a fortnight for the pre-monsoon annual maintenance has not gone down well with Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The AAI officials have sought an appointment with the naval officials here in the coming week to request them to extend the timing of operations from eight to twelve hours during the fortnight-long maintenance period.

"We have written to the Indian Navy asking them for a meeting on Tuesday. We are still waiting for their response.

The closure for such a long duration will affect the operations on the airport," Director Goa airport M Suresh told PTI.

The annual pre-monsoon maintenance by the Indian Navy is generally undertaken in mid-May.

Mr Suresh said that the AAI has been demanding that the airport may be kept open between 6 am to 6 pm so that there is no disruption of flight traffic.

The airport located at Dabolim village, near Vasco town, is a part of INS Hansa, a naval base which is home for more than ten fighter plane squadrons, guarding western coast of the country. The latest inducted MiG-29K also operate from the base and are attached to aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Naval sources said that they plan to close the runway from 8 am to 4 pm for the maintenance of the runway, which is undertaken before the monsoon hits the state.

This year, the monsoons are expected to hit the state in first week of June.

Navy's public relation officer was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

During the proposed meeting, the AAI is also expected to discuss about the oncoming tourist season and the arrival of chartered flights at this newly refurbished airport, which is now equipped with modern amenities like arrow bridges and more taxi bays.

The Goa airport receives more than 1,000 chartered aircraft annually, which account for almost 90 per cent of Indian flights in that segment.

"I hope to rope in another 10 clients this fiscal when the new terminal on the north bank will be ready," Kalantri said.

Kalantri said he expects to treble the volume in FY'15 on the back of improved business sentiment. The first berth was completed 14 months ago. Last fiscal, it handled 1.1 MT cargo and cumulative volume touched 4.5 MT since its partial operations began four years.

The Port, which has a 50-year concession agreement with Maharashtra Government on a build, own, operate, share & transfer (BOOST mode, comes under the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone. It will also have a 200-acre SEZ and a similar size free-trade zone in the third phase.

It has already acquired land for the SEZ for Rs 400 crore, Kalantri said.


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