Flights at Mumbai airport were delayed by 40 minutes on Tuesday after airport authorities were forced to close the main runway for six hours to carry out urgent repairs on a portion that developed cracks.
All arrivals and departures were affected as air traffic at the country’s second busiest airport jostled for space on the secondary runway, which is half the size of the main runway.
The cracks on the main runway were attributed to overuse. “Other taxiways on the stretch were shut for repairs. The (main runway) stretch has witnessed massive wear in the past few months, when the secondary runway was completely shut for repairs,” an airport official said, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“The area needed immediate repairs, which were completed within six hours of the shutdown,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson. The airport will continue to shut the main runway for two hours (from 2 pm to 4 pm) every Tuesday and Friday, for routine maintenance activities such as clearing rubber deposits.
Airfield officials said most pilots have been using this stretch adjoining a taxiway called “November 9” to vacate the runway.
Between last October and March 31 this year, the primary runway was partially closed for repairs for six hours every Tuesday. The sudden runway closure this Tuesday took fliers by surprise. “I didn’t know about this repair work until I peeped out of the aircraft window,” said Setu Gupta (39), who flew to Chennai. “I would have rescheduled the meeting had the airlines informed us,” the Kurla-based trader added.
Despite the delays on Tuesday, no flights were cancelled or diverted. MIAL said the secondary runway saw 74 flights land and 85 take off between 10 am and 4 pm.
Some airlines, wary of using the secondary runway, rescheduled flights.
For instance, a Singapore Airlines flight scheduled to land at 10.30 am arrived 30 minutes early to avoid