The city’s strays have a new hunting ground the airport.
Litter mainly food leftovers carelessly dumped on the airfield — is drawing dogs to the runway, forcing flights to hover, go-around and, in worst cases, divert to other airports.
Leftover sandwiches, samosas and other foodstuff left on food trays are indirectly responsible for flights hovering in the city skies, officials said.
Since January, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has been forced to employ a team of 30 people — they’re called ‘dog catchers’ — to keep strays out of the airfield.
In eight months, dog catchers have captured 320 strays — two dogs a day, on an average. The private consortium started penalising people found littering the airfield in March.
The proposal to penalise people littering the airfield was mooted on Environment Day.
“We get about four offenders a month,” said an MIAL spokesperson.
Offenders comprise members of airlines, catering companies and oil suppliers. “Offenders littering parking bays are fined Rs 500 while those found dumping garbage on perimeter roads or the airfield have to pay Rs 200,” said the spokesperson.
In one of the most serious cases of flight disruption due to dogs, a stray forced four flights to go-around and diverted five flights on Mumbai airport on June 6.
Similarly, a landing plane crushed a dog at a point where the main and the cross runway intersect on August 29, forcing airport authorities to shut runway operations for 15 minutes.