Gutsy winds, flooding force Chennai Airport to shut operations

The official said many passengers, who arrived at the airport from their homes, returned home amidst the heavy rains.
Image used for representational purpose
Image used for representational purpose

CHENNAI:  Several air passengers were stranded on Monday after Chennai Airport closed its airfield from 9.17am to 11pm due to gutsy winds, incessant rainfall, and inundation. A Chennai airport official told TNIE that five flights departing from Chennai were cancelled, apart from the diversion of 23 flights, prior to the shutting down of airfield. The arrival of two flights were also cancelled.

The official said many passengers, who arrived at the airport from their homes, returned home amidst the heavy rains. Some of them, however, stayed put awaiting the weather to get normal. Initially, the airport announced the closure of the airfield nearly two hours from 9.17am to 11.30am. However, as the wind and rains continued unabated leaving the runway inundated, the closure was extended by nearly another 12 hours.

Unlike 2015 floods, Chennai airport had activated its contingency plan which was prepared on Saturday following a high-level meeting chaired by Chennai airport director CV Deepak. Food and other arrangements were made for passengers as per the contingency plan, said an airport official. On the airside, ground handlers were advised for mooring of aircraft and to ensure safety of ground support equipment and operating personnel.

During 2015 in Chennai, floods forced closure of the Chennai airport for at least four days. The airport walls were breached by the Adyar river in 15 to 20 places. Some were 20 metres wide while others, 10 to two metres wide. The Airport Authority of India then had joined hands with the IIT to map the geography of the airport and its surrounding areas using a drone to plan a long-term solution to prevent flooding. It was then planned to map the airport and the surrounding water bodies up to 5-10 km radius from the airport.

Even, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has called for a detailed flood study by appointing a consultant in the field of flood modelling of Adyar river. Though CMDA claimed before the Madras Court that the study has been done but this has not been made public.

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