Data available on flight operations for the month of August showed that long waits at the city airport have more than doubled between early morning (3am to 9am) and the first half of the day (9am to 3pm). Marginal delays of 13.5% (arrivals and departures) has jumped to 32.1%. By evening, nearly every one in two flights ran behind schedule as average delays soared to 44.5%. The data, computed by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), is forwarded to the civil aviation ministry for routine review.
“The pattern of delays clearly indicates that it is caused by excess capacity,” said a senior executive with an aviation think-tank, adding that flight operations are disproportionately spread over three time cycles in comparison.
For instance, the early morning period saw only 3,660 operations which nearly doubled to 6,445 in the subsequent session. The second half, which is a slightly longer period (8 hours as compared to 6 hours), saw 7,320 operations.
“Take-off and touchdown slots are chosen by airlines, but their distribution is in the aviation safety regulator’s control. They should see these numbers before putting out slots during the upcoming winter schedule,” said another industry expert.
Moreover, successful trail runs for an automated navigation method by the Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) were ineffective in monsoon. “We are hopeful that airport collaborative decision making (ACDM) will work after the monsoons,” said a senior ATC official.
ACDM comprises feeding scores of data such as flight plans, the runway in use and parking bays to be allotted to an incoming aircraft into software. The system then uses complex algorithms to throw up real-time timelines to all airport departments involved in air traffic management. The automation would help the time wastage in verbal communication between these departments, added airport officials.