-, Nov 20, 2023, India Blooms News Service
Imphal: Three flights at Imphal airport could not take off from the runway for more than three hours, and two incoming flights changed their routes to Kolkata and Guwahati due to reports from air traffic controllers about an unidentified flying object near the runway, NDTV reported.
The Imphal airport authorities immediately shut down the controlled airspace in Manipurs capital and halted all flight operations, affecting nearly 1,000 passengers, the report stated, citing sources.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) handed over control of the airspace to the Indian Air Force (IAF). Later, the IAF granted approval to restore the airspace for commercial flight operations, NDTV quoted sources, who requested anonymity.
At around 2 pm, both air traffic control (ATC) and people on the ground observed drones, after which instructions were given to three flights (two from Air India and one from IndiGo) not to take off. At the same time, two incoming flights were diverted, according to the sources.
The director of Imphal airport, Chipemmi Keishing, confirmed the drone sighting in a statement. According to the officer, all three flights were allowed to take off once the competent authority granted security clearance.
The incident occurred in the backdrop of heightened tension in Manipur due to months of ethnic violence between the Kuki tribes, who live predominantly in the hills, and the Meiteis, who are the majority in the valley.
Drones were allegedly used by various conflicting groups during the months of violence. Also in Myanmar, which borders Indias Manipur state, the junta forces have been conducting airstrikes against Chin State rebels along the border.