TIRUPATI: An Air India aircraft bound for Hyderabad was damaged while taking off at the Tirupati international airport here on Tuesday afternoon. Sources told TNIE that loose concrete from the runway flew off while the flight was taking off and hit its belly and wings.
The flying concrete pieces punched holes in the wings of the aircraft. However, the flight went ahead and landed safely in Hyderabad where the crew noticed the damage and complained to the authorities. A senior official at the Tirupati international airport said they were alerted by their counterparts in Hyderabad.
The incident occurred around 2.15 pm and the runway was closed for maintenance work around 3.30 pm after receiving information from Hyderabad. It was opened for traffic later in the evening. However, due to maintenance, the incoming flights from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and New Delhi were rescheduled.
Raghu Swaminathan, who arrived at Tirupati airport in the night, said his flight from Bengaluru to Tirupati was delayed by nearly four hours due to rescheduling.
“I was to fly by the 3.45 pm Indigo flight but it departed only at 7.45 pm at Bengaluru and reached Tirupati only at 8.45 pm,’’ Swaminathan said. The airport at Tirupati was given international status in 2015 but international flights are yet to take off from here. The runway expansion at the airport is going on and it is likely to be completed by February 2020.