Flight operations from the Thiruvananthapuram international airport came to a standstill on Wednesday night after an Air India aircraft with 80 passengers and two infants bound for Dammam in Saudi Arabia got stuck in the middle of the runway while making an emergency landing.
The incident took place when the Dammam-bound AI 915 flight of the national carrier returned to the airport at 6.40 p.m. after the commander got a warning about a snag in the doors of the aircraft. Airport sources said the A-330 aircraft made a ‘hard landing' and in the process got struck in the runway forcing the airport authorities to close the airport for flight operations immediately.
No one was injured in the incident, although there are reports that smoke and fire emanated once the aircraft touched down in the runway and came to a halt. The passengers were shifted to the terminal building. The flight had taken off from here at 6 p.m. as per schedule and soon the commander noticed the warning.
Airline sources said the warning signal might have blinked due to snags in the sensors of the door. The commander immediately alerted Air Traffic Control about the snag and his decision was to return to the airport here as he did not want to take any chance. The efforts of the airline authorities to remove the tyre of the aircraft and to tow it had not been successful till 10 p.m.
Airport Director G. Chandramouli told The Hindu that efforts were on to tow the aircraft from the runway and to clear it for flight operations at the earliest. The airline has cancelled the flight as the aircraft had been grounded. Alternative arrangements are being made to send the stranded passengers to Dammam on Thursday from here, airline sources said. The passengers had also been given the option to go home in pre-paid taxies.
This is the first time in recent history that the premier airport of the State is being closed for flight operations on account of aircraft getting stuck in the runway. Since it was off-season, the flight had only 80 passengers although it has a seating capacity of 200 passengers.