With sensitive defence airstrips often blocked by schedule carriers’ planes that get stuck there due to technical reasons for several hours, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has asked airlines to station aircraft removal kits and trained personnel to operate them at its airports.
If airlines fail to do so, IAF has warned that their permission to operate flights to IAF airports like Jammu, Srinagar, Pune and Chandigarh could be cancelled this summer. Schedule Indian carriers operate regular flights to about 20 defence airfields that have a civil enclave or passenger terminal. These include IAF bases like Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Bikaner, and Naval bases like Goa’s Dabolim and Vishakhapatnam.
All these airports have only one runway. If a plane gets stuck, the forces can’t operate their fighter jets — something that has security implications. For instance, last summer an A-320 remained stuck at the ultra critical Srinagar airport for almost two days after its tyres burst on landing there. The Navy has also decided to allow on a trial basis 15 aircraft per hour, up from 12, during peak period of 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm at its Dabolim base in Goa.