Passengers of domestic flights arriving at the Delhi airport will have to brace for a long wait from Friday — either hovering above the airport or sitting endlessly in a taxiing aircraft.
Private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL) is going to close runway 28 from April 2 for major repair work. The work would be completed only by September end.
Though the IGI Airport has two other runways, runway 28 is its main warhorse and its closure would put most of the pressure on runway 29. The airport also has a smaller runway 27, which is usually used as a backup.
Runway 28 is close to the domestic terminal but domestic flights landing at the new runway 29 have to taxi an extra 9 km to reach the domestic parking bays.
At present, flights are handled on runways 28 and 29 using mixed mode and domestic flights landing on runway 28 don’t have to trek a long distance. However, according to senior air traffic control officials (ATCO), now runway 29 will be used for landings and runway 27 for all take-offs.
This means all arriving domestic flights will have to cover the distance, which can take up to 40 minutes at times.
Also, while runways 28 and 29 are parallel to each other, runway 27 is not.
Runways 28 and 29 can be used independently and can handle more aircraft movement but now runways 29 and 27 will have to be used in a ‘dependant mode’, leading to reduced capacity.
“The centre line of runway 27 converge with runway 29 at a distance as they are not parallel. This means a plane will not take off from runway 27 when another plane is landing on runway 29,” an ATCO said.
DIAL, however, said that flight operations would not be affected.
Delhi, the busiest airport in the country, handles 700 flight movements every day.