If you thought that of late, air traffic congestion had gone down at the Delhi airport, all credit goes to the simultaneous usage of all three runways at the airport.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), the busiest in the country, handles nearly 1,000 flights every day. For all departures and arrivals, the airport chiefly depends on the main runway (28/10) and the new runway (29/11). The airport also has a secondary runway (27/09), but it is used only when one of the main runways is closed for repair or maintenance.
To curb rising air congestion, Airports Authority of India, which handles air traffic at the airport, has now started using all the three runways simultaneously on a trial basis from June 6. While the two main runways are parallel and can be independently used, the flight path of runway 27/09 and 28/10 converge. So, special procedures have to be used, keeping the safety angle in mind.
While this has helped decongest the airport, the move has added to the pressure on the already burdened Delhi air traffic control that is also reeling under staff shortage.
“The simultaneous use of the three runways has helped in reducing congestion at the airport tremendously. Kudos to the efficiency of air traffic controllers for making this happen," said DS Raghavan, president of the ATC Guild. “The system is being undertaken on a trial basis now and will help in finalising the procedures,” he added.
Air traffic controllers, however, complain that they now have to work extra hours at a job that is considered one of the toughest in the world. “All of us are doing extra work. Moreover, our weekly offs and leaves have been cancelled. We have tried to use the three runways simultaneously before too, but if the system becomes permanent, the infrastructure and manpower would require an upgrade,” said a senior controller who didn’t wish to be named."We are facing a shortage of manpower, but recruitment of controllers is being done. This, however, will take some time as newly recruited controllers have to be trained first, which too takes time," Raghavan said.