Mumbai airport main runway shut till 11 p.m. Saturday

September 3rd, 2011 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 3 (IANS) The closure of Mumbai airport?s main runway has been extended till 11 p.m. Saturday as work to extricate a Turkish Airlines aircraft from slush continued despite bad weather conditions, an official said.

As hectic efforts continued to free the aircraft stuck in the mud beside the main runway, flight operations at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) - the country’s busiest airport - were severely hampered for nearly 40 hours.

The CSIA authorities Saturday had to suspend all operations on the secondary runway as well for a few minutes, four times during the day, on account of poor visibility.

The CSIA also grappled with an emergency landing of a Spicejet Bangalore-Mumbai flight with 137 passengers on board. There were no casualties in the incident.

Airport officials said that continuous downpour over Mumbai and surroundings further hampered the retrieval operations launched Friday evening.

?The rain is adding to the slush and soft mud, making it difficult to position heavy cranes or trucks and their actions to retrieve the aircraft,? an airport official told IANS.

Besides over a dozen diversions, three international flight cancellations were reported till 6 p.m. Saturday.

Regular operations are now suffering an hour?s delay, both for arrivals and departures, the official said.

The main runway was shut down early Friday after a Turkish Airlines Airbus aircraft skidded after landing and got stuck in the soft mud following heavy rains. All 104 passengers, including 11 crew, were safe.

Friday evening, the airport authorities and Air India helped empty the fuel off the stranded aircraft.

A temporary pathway was prepared near the aircraft, a ground power unit was connected to the disabled aircraft, and the entire cargo on board was unloaded.

These measures were taken to reduce the weight on the front and rear sides of the aircraft before it could be towed away with cranes and trucks.

In a statement Friday, the Turkish Airlines attributed the incident to ?excessive rainfall? at the CSIA.

?About the cause of the incident, the necessary analysis and research is being done in collaboration with the local civil aviation authorities,? a spokesman for the airline said.

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