Pubs and restaurants are not the only places that will get packed with crowds on Saturday for the 2011 Cricket World Cup finals. The city’s airspace too is likely to get congested given the number of VIP flights scheduled on that day.
As a result, the Mumbai airport operator has suspended repair work on the main runway to avoid delays. “In view of the VIP aircraft movements at Mumbai for the world cup final, the repair work on the main runway will not be undertaken on Saturday,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson.
The main runway is shut from 9 am to 5 pm, every day except on Sundays for repairs since last October.
Airport officials said that Indian President Pratibha Patil and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa are scheduled to arrive in the city on Friday evening.
Entry passes are not issued to airfield workers during presidential visits according to the standard protocol followed by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.
Until Friday evening, the city airport schedule showed that at least nine private aircraft carrying guests from Sri Lanka are expected to arrive between Friday and Saturday.
Airport officials also said that some private charters and business jets from Delhi are listed to touchdown at the airport for the event. Such luxury fliers would head directly to the airport’s dedicated corporate terminal in Kalina and use the VIP exit to enter the city. Choppers carrying politicians are also likely to land at the Juhu aerodrome.
Meanwhile, security agencies have tightened the security cover around the airport. “We are sticking to regular drills that are followed during high alerts,” said Jitender Singh Negi, senior commandant, Central Industrial Security Force. The CISF has increased patrolling of the terminals and airport periphery. Multiple frisking of passenger baggage is also likely.