Flights in and out of Mumbai airport could be delayed this winter, as the city airport’s main runway will be shut for eight hours a day, except Sundays, for eight months starting October 28.
A notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Tuesday said the runway will be shut from 9am to 5pm for construction of two new rapid exit taxiways (RET) at the airport.
Although the secondary runway will be available for operations, it is not equipped to handle low visibility operations.
“The fog problem in Mumbai is not as bad as Delhi, but runway visibility on many days is affected by smog (smoke blended with fog). The airport could witness major delays on those days,” said an ATC official, who did not wish to be named.
According to officials, the closure of the busy taxiways could accentuate delays. “The closure will result in aircraft taking longer routes while taxiing towards the runway. This could lead to congestion in the departure queue,” said a senior pilot working with a private airline.
If smog disrupts flight movement on the secondary runway, it will take four hours to stop construction work and prepare the main runway for operations.
Jayant Dasgupta, general manager with the Mumbai ATC, said the closure was decided after weather charts for the past three years showed that visibility during the winter months in Mumbai was better suited for the project.
“We will suspend the work completely on days when the visibility is poor,” he said.