The Times of India:
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Chinmayi Shalya, TNN,
MUMBAI: Commercial flights are likely to be delayed by at least an hour when Air Force One, with an escort of three aircraft and five helicopters, touches down at Mumbai airport on Saturday morning. Though officials have yet to receive communication on air-space closure, protocol calls for a gap six minutes during a VVIP visit.
No commercial or civil flight is allowed to land or take off three minutes prior to and after the scheduled time of arrival. In the US Presidents case, a longer hiatus between his aircraft and other flights is expected. TOI has learned that the Centre is considering extending it to ten minutes in order to secure the airport and the skies.
Even if the closure is for six minutes, one has to take into account the sheer number of aircraft in Obamas entourage, said an airport official. With nine aircraft, helicopters and planes, scheduled to land on Nov 6, air-space closure may last for at least 54 minutes.
After arriving at Mumbai airport, Obama is expected to fly to the air-base INS Shikra. "This means that we will have air-space closure for each VVIP aircraft that is landing and taking off. During this span, the movement of commercial flights will be highly restricted," said a source.
Three officials who are familiar with the required protocol said the ministry was also considering increasing the gap between general flights and the VVIP entourage to seven or 10 minutes.
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