The fear that repair work at Mumbai airport runway may cause flight disruptions was unfounded on Tuesday, the first day of the schedule, as the airstrip will be shut for four hours each day, said officials.
According to the notice to airmen issued by the city airport administration flight movements were shifted to the smaller runway at noon as the main runway was shut for routine maintenance. “The repairs largely comprise relaying of the surface that crumbled due to wear and tear,” said an airport official. Operations on the primary runway resumed at 4 pm.
Officials from the air traffic control (ATC) department said the experience on Day 1 was “smooth” particularly because flights across airlines were reduced keeping the airport’s curtailed capacity in mind. “Passengers could expect some delays owing to congestion but waits are unlikely to be more than 15-20 minutes,” said an ATC official. More than 2,100 flights were cut from the airport’s winter schedule for this purpose.
While the partial closure of operations will take place intermittently till November 30 (see graphic for dates) the airport’s real challenge would be the complete shutdown starting from October 31. Both the airstrips would be shut for five hours on Mondays and Thursdays during this period. “We will work on the patch where both the runways intersect each other during this period,” added the airport official.