Equipment at Bhubaneswar airport have been significantly damaged but flight operations are expected to begin by 1 pm Saturday, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement on Friday. “The passenger terminal building at Bhubaneswar has been considerably damaged, particularly at the rooftop and facades. Based on the feedback and action taken, it was decided that Bhubaneswar will resume commercial flight operations with effect from 1300 IST on May 4, 2019,” the statement said.
As the rooftop of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower has been blown away, affecting very high frequency (VHF) antennas at the rooftop, the ministry said that alternate ATC arrangements have been made at the airport. “There is also considerable damage to the perimeter wall of operational area to the extent of 600 metres at various places. Adequate security arrangements have been made to address the issue,” the ministry said.
The cyclone rolled through Odisha on Friday, packing rain and windstorm that gusted up to 175 kmph, leaving at least three people dead, blowing away thatched houses, and swamping towns and villages.
Before ministry’s statement, Principal Spokesperson of the Government of India Sitanshu Kar had tweeted, “Significant damage to equipment at airport at Bhubaneshwar... Teams from the Airport Authority of India are working on restoration. Aircraft movements expected by 1300 hrs tomorrow i.e, 04 May 2019.”
Earlier in the day, Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said no flights will depart or arrive at Kolkata airport from 3 pm Friday to 8 am Saturday in view of the cyclonic storm ‘Fani’, which slammed into the Odisha coast in the morning. On Thursday, the regulator said there would be no flights to and from Kolkata airport between 9.30 pm Friday and 6 pm Saturday. Therefore, on Friday afternoon, Vistara airline reinstated a few flights to and from Kolkata airport after receiving the revised DGCA advisory.
Sanjiv Kapoor, the chief strategy and commercial officer of Vistara, said on Twitter, “Lots of disruption today due to Cyclone Fani and closure of Bhubaneswar and Kolkata airports. And then a flash storm in Delhi that resulted in diversions. Call centre also swamped. Tough day for passengers and staff alike, thanks for your patience and understanding.”
Vistara has around 4 per cent of domestic passenger market share. On Friday, IndiGo announced on Twitter that due to cyclone Fani, all flights to and from Kolkata have been cancelled for Saturday till 6 pm. It added, “All flights to and from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled for May 4 till 3 pm.”
The low-cost carrier, which has around 44 per cent of domestic passenger market share, advised its customers to go to a link on its website in order to opt for alternate options or get a refund.