Tirupati: At least seven incoming and outgoing flights were delayed due to an emergency closure of the only runway at Tirupati airport on Tuesday. The runway was closed after cracks and potholes developed suddenly on the newly extended runway.
According to sources at the airport, the runway was closed to carry out maintenance work after it was badly damaged when Air India flight, flying between Tirupati and New Delhi via Hyderabad, AI-541, with a 300-seating capacity, was trying to take off. The flight which re-ached here at 1.20 pm on Tuesday left the airport between 2.45 pm and 3 pm. Due to bad weather conditions the flight was directed to take off from a point where the runway was being extended towards Kurrakalva. It was learnt that as part of extending the runway, tar was laid on this portion on Monday.
When the aircraft that had four jet engines was about to take off, cracks and potholes surfaced on the edge of the runway due to the heavy thrusts released from the engine. Sources added that after the episode, the debris that was removed from the area had to be carted in nine trucks and it showed the magnitude of the incident.
According to the airport in-charge director, Mr Narasimhan, the ru-nway was closed for alm-ost three hours to make necessary repairs to fa-cilitate other incoming and outbound flights for an incident free take-off and landing. “Cracks su-rfaced after the flight took off from here in the afternoon. The thrusts released from the engin-es of the aircraft caused damage to the runway. Our teams worked hard for an hour and tempo-rarily made repairs to the runway. Now, the runway has resumed se-rvice and the flights are flying on time,” he said.