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Oil firms, airline staff litter airport, delay flights

india Updated: May 28, 2009 02:26 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Litterbugs have not spared even the city’s airfield. And it’s compromising your safety as well as delaying flights.

The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the private consortium modernising the city airport, has registered 25 cases against people working with airlines and oil companies for littering the airfield in the last 10 months. The waste includes sandwiches and samosas from passenger food trays handed out on flights.

This waste attracts dogs, which disrupt flight operations, and also increases the number of birds around the airfield. Between June 2008 and January this year, there have been 45 cases of bird hits at the country’s busiest airport. On May 8, a Delhi-bound Air India flight with 142 passengers onboard was delayed by four hours due to a bird hit. On June 6, 2008, a stray dog on the main runway forced five flights carrying 800 passengers to be diverted to Ahmedabad.

“Litter lying on the airside can cause potential damage to aircraft as it can get sucked into the engine,” said the MIAL spokesperson.

Littering is not restricted to just food. Oil spills by airlines and oil companies due to careless handling while refuelling and maintenance are far more dangerous. “Oil spills can make planes skid,” said an airport official. On July 12, 2008 an Air India flight spilled oil on the runway, forcing it to be closed for 45 minutes.

MIAL, which has since last June been penalising people for dirtying the airfield, said a team of airport officials looks for waste dumped on the airfield and fines the agency or person concerned. “Company policy does not permit us to reveal the fine amount,” said the MIAL spokesperson.

The airport operator also employs a team of 30 dog-catchers, who caught 320 dogs from the airfield last year and handed them over to the municipal body.