It was chaos on day one of the month-long runway upgradation at Mumbai airport. On Thursday, as the main runway was shut between 10 am and 6 pm, the country’s busiest airport saw 25-minute delays on 120 of its 550 landings and take-offs, inconveniencing passengers and saddling airlines with fuel losses.
This was in stark contrast with Mumbai International Airports Ltd’s (MIAL’s) assurance that operations would not be hit. The secondary runway, it had said, could handle the traffic while the main runway was shut.
What’s worse, the delays are likely to continue till November 24 when the main runway is fully operational again.
Pointing out that the main runway is being kept closed to complete two rapid-exit taxiways and to upgrade the lighting, an MIAL spokesman said: “We anticipated the delays and informed airlines accordingly. We must upgrade to increase long-term efficiency and safety of the runway.”
Go Air COO Raj Halve told HT that the delays were not primarily due to the runway’s closure. “It happens due to various factors. Two of our six flights during the affected hours were delayed by 15 minutes.”
The delay can be attributed mainly to the lack of a parallel taxiway to the shorter secondary runway. Due to this, flights take longer than usual to vacate the runway after landing, hitting other flight schedules.
Jet Airways, which had 84 flight movements between 10 am and 6 pm, had to manage delays of 25 to 30 minutes. Indian had 36 flight movements and suffered delays of 15 minutes. Kingfisher Airways’ two flights were also delayed.