Mumbai’s oldest airport was at the receiving end of the rain God’s fury as operations at the Juhu airstrip was shut down following an overnight downpour on Friday. The operations were shut for the day and would remain so for the rest of the week if the monsoon continues to play truant, said officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI). The losses have forced the Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI) -- a Delhi-based non-profit organisation working towards promoting the civil and military helicopter industry in India -- to demand from the government that the airdrome be declared as ‘only for sea planes’ during the monsoon period.
Meanwhile, officials said the aerodrome was submerged under two-feet deep water and was shut for any flight operations for the day. The airport is a crucial take off point for private flight operators, and flight operations of the ONGC for its offshore oil and gas explorations. While private flyers rued they have suffered huge losses already along with those companies working in the Exploration and Production (E&P) sector, they have already hit hard by AAI's decisions to increase rentals.
“This is just the beginning of the monsoon and we don't know how it would be in July and August which are the peak season for rains. Yet the AAI (Airport Authority of India) want a 500% increase in various rentals. We urge the government that this airport be declared as airport for "sea planes" only during monsoon,” said Captain Uday Gelli, president (western region), RWSI.