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Rescheduling of flights for airport expansion

By V.S. Palaniappan

COIMBATORE, FEB. 21. With the decks being cleared for runway expansion at the Coimbatore airport, flight operations in the evening and at night will be withdrawn from March 1.

Airport Authority of India (AAI) sources said the night landing and take-off would remain suspended for at least for 10-12 months and airlines would reschedule their services.

The AAI was extending the runway from 7,500 feet for operation of widebodied aircraft.

Industrial activity in Coimbatore, tourism in Udhagamandalam and hosiery business at Tirupur were prospects for improving cargo and passenger traffic to and from Coimbatore.

While the district administration already deputed a team of revenue officials for land acquisition work, the AAI began the work on one side of the airport, where expansion did not require land acquisition. In the first phase, the runway would be expanded by 1,000 feet and on completion of the land acquisition, the second phase would begin to make it longer by 9,000 feet or even up to 11,000 feet depending on needs, the AAI sources said.

The AAI was planning to close the runway from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. for the expansion work. To begin with, Indian Airlines, which operates only one night service flight in the Chennai-Coimbatore-Cochin-Sharjah sector, has revised its timings. Flight IC 975 will depart from Chennai at 1420 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and arrive here at 1515 hours, leave here at 1600 hours, reach Cochin at 1630 hours and depart from there at 1720 hours for Sharjah. It will reach Sharjah at 2000 hrs (local time).

There will be no change in the schedule of IC 976 in the Sharjah-Cochin-Coimbatore-Chennai sector.

The other IA flight timings remain unchanged, says a release.

Jet Airways, which operates a night flight in the Coimbatore-Bangalore sector, and Air Sahara, which is operating an evening flight at 1715 hours to Chennai, are also rescheduling the services for touch down and take off before 4 p.m., say sources.

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