No suspension of flights as IAF withdraws order on shutting down Jammu Airport


JAMMU, Sept 7: In a much relief to the State Government as well as general commuters, the Indian Air Force has withdrawn its earlier order of shutting down Jammu Airport for all flights for two weeks from October 1.
Official sources told the ANS that the order to close down Jammu Airport for resurfacing of its runway has been reviewed on the intervention of Ministry of Defence following request for the same by the J&K Government and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) in view of the prevailing situation in the State and the forthcoming festival season.
Now, there will be no suspension of any commercial flight and the proposed work for resurfacing of the Airport runway shall be carried out during the night hours thus avoiding any inconvenience in smooth operations of the airlines, sources added.
Director of Jammu Airport, Pravat Ranjan Beuria also confirmed that the Indian Air Force has withdrawn its order of closing down the airport for all flights from October 1 to 15 and the same has been conveyed to the airlines, which had earlier stopped booking for these 15 days.
On an average, at least 24 commercial flights of Indian Airlines, Go Air, Vistara, Indigo, Go India and others operate from the Jammu Airport for Delhi, Srinagar, Mumbai, Bathinda, Lucknow and some other cities on daily basis.
Pertinent to mention that the flight operations at Jammu Airport were decided to be suspended for 15 days from October 1 for carrying out resurfacing and strengthening of the existing runway for heavy flights. Decision in this regard was taken by the Indian Air Force, the owner and operator of Jammu Airport, and the same was conveyed to Airport Authority of India two months back, after which all the aviation companies were directed to stop booking of flights for October 1-15.
Following this, the State Government authorities in consultation with the Indian Air Force, were exploring the options of operating some aircraft from Udhampur or Pathankot as alternate arrangements to deal with VVIP and emergency visits during the period of resurfacing of the runway. However, no alternate option was found suitable, particularly in view of the prevailing situation in J&K following withdrawal of provisions of Article 370 and also usual rush of passengers during the forthcoming festival season, sources explained.
Even as the State Government as well as the Airport Authority of India suggested that the work on resurfacing of the runway could be done during off hours without hampering the flight operations, sources said that the request in this regard was turned down at the local level.
Thereafter, sources added, the Chief Secretary of J&K Government wrote to the Ministry of Defence for its intervention to deal with the situation in view the urgency for keeping the Jammu Airport open for flight operations.
Acting on the State Government’s request, sources said, the Ministry of Defence took stock of the situation and directed the Air Force authorities in Jammu to withdraw its decision on shutting down the airport besides suggesting that the work on resurfacing of the runway may be done during night hours for avoiding suspension of flight operations.
Following withdrawal of the earlier order, the aviation companies have been informed about the latest development and allowed for doing routine booking while resurfacing of the runway during night will not affect quality of the work, which is likely to be completed in the same duration of two weeks as the Airport Authority of India also executes such jobs during off hours, sources informed.