Panaji: Heavy rains have deteriorated the runway at Goa's Dabolim international airport and the proposed shut down of the runway from November 2, for six hours every Saturday for its maintenance, was expected to prevent any further deterioration, the Indian Navy said on Wednesday."The excessively heavy monsoon this season has adversely affected the runway surface," the Indian Navy said.
The statement comes at a time when travel and tourism industry stakeholders in Goa, have expressed anxiety that the closure of the runway on Saturday could impact tourist arrivals. The Indian Navy, however maintained, that flights of only one international charter service provider would be impacted by the weekend closure.
"The proposed maintenance slot between 0630-1230 hours affects only one flight of charter operator Thompson Airways from the United Kingdom. The operator was offered additional slots to cater for their requirements which was accepted by their local manager as also all other airline operators," the statement said.
The Dabolim international airport, Goa's only airport, operates out of the Indian naval base INS Hansa in South Goa district. The military-run facility shuts down civil operations for 25 hours every week to facilitate training and exercises conducted by the aviation wing of the Indian Navy.
Apart from the proposed maintenance schedule on Saturday, civilian flights are currently allowed at regulated hours during weekdays and for 24 hours on weekends. Setting aside hours for maintenance of the runway is common practice at other Indian airports, the statement also said.
"It is to be noted that many major airports in the country have runway maintenance slots of six to seven hours. The requirement to have minimum of six hours is necessary in Goa to prevent deterioration of runway surface. Indian Navy is mandated by regulations to ensure satisfactory condition of runway surface," it said.