Blantyre, Malawi - Chileka International Airport in Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, has been closed indefinitely because its main runway is littered with potholes, the Department of Civil Aviation has announced.
'We have alerted all airlines that there will be restricted landing at the airport because of major repair works on the main runway,' Transport Minister Ulemu Chilapondwa told PANA Sunday.
Chilapondwa said two potholes developed on the main runway and the Department of Civil Aviation hired a contractor to fill them.
'But what we discovered is that because of the consistent heavy rains there is major damage underneath so much that once one pothole is filled another develops immediately,' he said.
The minister said big airplanes, like the Boeing 737 or 747, cannot land at the airport.
Ethiopian Airways and Malawian Airlines flights, scheduled to land at the airport Sunday, were returned to the capital, Lilongwe, mid air.
Hundreds of passengers bound for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Johannesburg, South Africa, were left stranded. They were told to find their way to Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe for onward connection to their destinations.
Maganizo Mazeze, Malawian Airlines spokesman, told PANA all Malawian Airlines flights will depart and terminate at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe with immediate effect until the problem at Chileka Airport has been rectified.