Winter smog could continue to plague passengers flying in and out of Mumbai on Tuesdays. The airport operator and airlines are divided on ways to tackle smog that disrupted operations on Tuesday.
Airlines want the airport operator to suspend runway repair work until the smog season ends. But Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the GVK-led consortium running the airport, said deferring repairs will push renovation to summer, disrupting air traffic which is at its peak.
Fog is adding to Tuesday woes as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued stricter norms for flight operations on a shortened runway. While visibility up to 800 meters would allow flight operations on a full runway, the DGCA has said that the shortened runway would require visibility of at least 2,400 metres.
In the wee hours of Tuesday, at least two airlines had requested MIAL to suspend repair work, as visibility was very low. A senior official with a private airline said, “We realised visibility was poor around 1 am when an international flight was taxiing for take-off on the main runway. The situation didn’t look like it would improve so we sent an e-mail to Connie Miller (a senior official with MIAL) asking him to suspend the partial runway shutdown.”
Jet Airways had also requested MIAL to suspend repair work on Tuesday. “The entire runway should be made available on foggy Tuesdays,” a Jet airways spokesperson said,
The MIAL spokesperson refused to comment. “Airlines knew about the runway repair plan since April. It was approved on basis of feedback from all agencies.” He added, “We are open to discuss alternative options to avoid chaos.”