The Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Airports Authority of India has told its representatives that flights could not commence from Surat mainly because the runway at the airport is adequate only for landing or takeoff of 10- to 12-seater planes. The runway is not safe for operating bigger planes.
Officials of the AAI met representatives of the chamber on Thursday.
Chamber president Dinesh Mandalaywala said, "AAI officials told us that the runway or the airstrip at the Surat airport cannot handle planes with seating capacity of more than 10 or 12. Air Deccan has planned to use 48-seater planes for its Mumbai-Bhavnagar-Surat flight."
"AAI officials said Air Deccan was refused permission for the flight keeping the safety measures in mind. The officials said though it was unsafe, Air Deccan was given permission for the inaugural flight from Surat on July 18 because of political pressure," said Mandalaywala.
"AAI had started work on strengthening and lengthening the runway, but the work has been disrupted because of the monsoons," said Mandalaywala.
"AAI has issued tenders for construction of a new terminal building, setting up a powerhouse and building other infrastructure at the airport, but work will commence only after the rainy season is over," Mandalaywala said.
"According to AAI officials, it would take at least a year before these works are completed, only after which commercial flights would be allowed to commence from Surat. The delay in commencement of services from Surat is hurting the local industry, but we do not want AAI to rush the matter at the cost of safety," said Mandalaywala.
The meeting was also attended by chamber vice president Dilip Chasmawala, chamber's airport committee convenor Rajnikant Marfatia and leading diamond and textile traders.
Air Deccan had announced launching of its Mumbai-Surat-Bhavnagar flight from July 18. The inaugural flight did come to Surat, twice, on the day, but could not land at Surat, due to inclement weather.
Air Deccan had announced that it had got necessary clearances from DGCA (Director General Civil Aviation) and its flight would commence operations as per the announced schedule from the next day, but the flight never arrived.The flight did not turn up on the third day either, only after which Air Deccan announced that it would take some more months before it can launch flights from Surat.