As many as 2,500 passengers were affected today as 30 flights were cancelled to and fro Jammu because of restrictions imposed by the Indian Air Force at the airport there for some technical reasons.
The curbs on operations were lifted later in the day following intervention by civil aviation authorities.
Sources said some 30 flights could neither land at nor depart from the Jammu airport due to a directive from the IAF that asked airlines to operate with significantly less overall load.
A NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), dated October 7, was issued on the grounds that the airport runway’s load bearing capacity was low. Even though the restriction was to be in place from October 14 to January 14, aviation regulator DGCA was allegedly informed about it only this week and the same was communicated to the airlines, the sources said.
“With the sudden intimation (from the IAF), the airlines were unprepared and this led to cancellation of some 30 flights, affecting as many as 2,500 passengers,” they added.
Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet together operate at least 32 flights daily to and from Jammu airport.
According to sources, the matter was taken up by the Civil Aviation Ministry with the Defence Ministry and after discussions, IAF decided to cancel the NOTAM in the evening with immediate effect.
The NOTAM — a communication that informs pilots about potential risks to flight safety — was issued by IAF after a study flagged off concerns about Jammu airport runway’s load bearing capacity.
The study is believed to have suggested that only aircraft with significantly less load than normal can operate from the runway.
While the NOTAM has been cancelled now, DGCA would be carrying out regular inspections to check the safety aspects of Jammu airport runway, sources said.
On its part, IAF would be carrying out re-carpeting work of the Jammu airport runway in a phased manner, they added.
During the day, only Air India managed to operate flights to and from Jammu airport as it deployed an aircraft equipped for flying with relatively less weight.