Monday, May 11, 2020

Goa airport preps for resumption of passenger flights

Panaji: The Goa International Airport, along with other major airports in the country, have received directions to prepare for commercial operations. The exact date for resuming operations remains undecided, said sources.
Officials said that the Centre is working on a calibrated plan to restart scheduled flights while taking into consideration green zones and areas where the novel coronavirus is widespread.
“Informally, directions have been issued to prepare for commercial flights. We can’t say when the flights will start, it could be in three days it could be after a week. Preparations are already on in Goa,” said a senior official.

Officials pointed out that while all airports in the country have remained operational, scheduled passenger flights have been suspended.

“Relief flights, lifeline Udan flights are landing, cargo operations are on. So where is the question of the airport being shut down,” said another official.

An Airports Authority of India official in Delhi said that the civil aviation ministry and the Director General of Civil Aviation has begun preparations based on models for flights with smaller aircraft such as the Bombardier Q400 and the ATR 72-600.

“Our models showed that smaller aircraft with a capacity of 70-90 passengers will be more viable for airlines in the present scenario as the passenger load will not be high. The savings on ATF will also be significant for operators, who are already facing steep losses,” said the AAI official.

On May 8, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that opening of civil aviation operations in the country would be done in a “calibrated and slow manner” with social distancing and safety norms becoming the new normal.

On Sunday, chief minister Pramod Sawant said that international flights would be allowed to land at Goa International Airport, in the coming days to facilitate the return of Goans from abroad. The BJP-led state government has already written to the Centre to allow Goans working abroad to return via direct flights to Goa.

Indian Navy has completed the maintenance and repairs of the lone runway at Goa International Airport and the runway is available all day round for operations, said sources.
11/05/20 Newton Sequeira/Times of India

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