Flight operations normal on second day of AAI employees stir

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) Flight operations across the country virtually remained unaffected even as the non-cooperation stir of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees entered the second day today in protest against the closure of Hyderabad and Bangalore airports.

The international flights landed and took off without delay from the GMR operated Indira Gandhi International Airport throughout last night, airport officials said .

They said additional staff was deployed for housekeeping and sanitation at the airport.

At airports in other parts of the country also the flights operated normally, including at the Tulihal airport in Manipur where the Joint Action Committee (JAC) continued its stir for the second day in protest against the acquisition of land for the airport's expansion.

An irate mob burnt the effigy of Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel at Ningombam.

Adequate security arrangements were made in view of the strike and police sealed off the airport area completely, while the CRPF personnel were guarding the airport premises.

JAC publicity secretary A Dineshwar said the residents of Ningombam, Malom and Kodompokpi gave about 600 acres of land in 1960 for the airport. However, the government had demanded another 512 acres of land where large number of people were settled.

At the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport in West Bengal, though all the flights operated almost normally, the fast deteriorating sanitary conditions and absence of passenger facilities were causing concern among the airport and airlines authorities.

Private airlines operators claimed that their flights were also on schedule, though arrival of a few flights was delayed.

Deployment of CISF personnel for cleaning up the airport premises was being considered at a high-level meeting of the top officials of the CISF.

AAI Director R K Singla told UNI that the strike, however, had not affected flight operations at the Begumpet airport today.

He said manpower was requisitioned from outside to handle the fire services, the only wing that was affected directly in view of the strike by the fire service personnel.

Of the 425 airport staff, 250, including permanent and casual labourers, participated in the strike.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has already issued a notification confirming the closure of commercial operations at Begumpet Airport in Andhra Pradesh and commencement of operations at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad from March 16.

The Civil Aviation Minister had earlier announced that the airport modernisation programme would be completed by 2010.

The JAC has threatened to disrupt all flight services tomorrow.

The employees would intensify the agitation and bring the issue to the notice of AICC President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is scheduled to inaugurate the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport tomorrow.

UNI Team AKJ RN1816

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