Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Cyclone Yaas: Kolkata airport waits before taking service suspension call

Kolkata: City airport authorities will take a shutdown decision only after Tuesday morning’s briefing by the meteorological office. Airlines are keen that the decision is taken soon thereafter, so that they get time to inform flyers who would otherwise be braving restrictions and inclement weather to land up at the airport and find themselves stranded.

The indecision by the Airports Authority of India till late on Monday evening appears to have been influenced by the possibility of the cyclone skirting Kolkata. Airline operators said that even if the city experienced consistent cyclonic winds of 60-80kmph with the possibility of gusts at 90kmph, operations will not be possible.

“An early decision will help everyone, particularly passengers who can then reschedule their journey. Airlines will also need to fly out smaller ATR and Q400 aircraft weighing around 20-22 tonne,” an airline official said. There are around 10 small aircraft stationed in Kolkata. There is no such issue with the Boeing B737 and Airbus A320 aircraft that weigh 45-50 tonnes. They just need to be secured with chocks to prevent them from rolling.

With the cyclone set to make landfall at noon on Wednesday, the impact on Kolkata should be between 2pm and 6pm. If the cyclone’s trajectory and timeline remains constant, airlines want to wind up operations by maximum10am so that they have a lead time to clear out the operational area and secure tractors, luggage carts, step ladders and other ground equipment.

Sources said that unless the course of the cyclone shifted further west and moved farther from Kolkata, the airport is likely to suspend operations from early Wednesday morning and resume operations on Thursday.

“We have issued warnings for Kolkata, Durgapur, Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda airports,” said airport met office in-charge GC Debnath.

25/05/21 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India

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