Almost four out of ten domestic flights arriving in the city between 11pm and 3 am were delayed last month, according to the data from the Mumbai airport. About half of these flights operated in this window would qualify as red-eye, said experts.
Some air travellers, mostly business class ones, prefer late night flights because tickets are cheaper and timed to avoid peak-hour rush.
In October, 633 city-bound flights were operated between 11pm and 3 am, which is approximately one-seventh of total domestic arrivals in the afternoon slot (3pm to 11pm) and just about a fifth of arrivals between 9am and 3pm, said the report.
“The late hour delays are primarily owing to a large number of spillover flights,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official requesting anonymity.
From 16% until 9am, arrival delays rose from 22% until 3pm and almost doubled at 35% by 11 pm, the data showed. Departures were worse. Only 16% of them were behind schedule until 9am. But between 3pm and 11 pm, every second departure was delayed.
If flights are late by 15 minutes or less, airports globally don’t count them under the delay category.
With the city airport’s runways under repairs, waits for fliers is likely to get longer, added ATC officials.
Both the runways are shut for five hours starting 12 noon on Mondays and Thursdays. In addition, the main airstrip is shut every second or third day for a few hours when flights are operated on the smaller runway.