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Mumbai airport main runway shut till noon

Mumbai: The main runway of the Mumbai airport will remain shut at least till Saturday noon as a Turkish plane that skidded off the taxiway a day earlier remained stuck in mud, an official said.

Normal operations at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) were severely hampered for the past over 30 hours as hectic efforts continued to retrieve the aircraft that was stuck beside the main runway.

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

Airport officials said continuous downpour 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 to retrieve the aircraft,” an official told IANS.

Besides half a dozen diversions and three international flight cancellations till midnight Friday night, regular operations continued to suffer with around 15 minutes delay on the arrivals, and up to 30 minutes on departures.

The airport authorities and Air India helped empty the fuel from the stranded aircraft Friday evening.

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 removed.
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.

After it is removed Saturday, the plane will undergo technical and physical checks before being cleared for operations.

The Turkish Airlines, in a statement Friday, 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,” an airline spokesperson said.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials Friday examined the aircraft.
All normal flight operations were shifted to the secondary runway since the incident.
Air India is helping in the efforts to remove the stranded aircraft and clear the main runway.

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