Airlines, regulator divided on Tuesday shutdown plan | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Airlines, regulator divided on Tuesday shutdown plan

After a series of near misses on Mumbai airport’s shortened runway, a strong lobby in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is pushing for the entire runway to be shut for six hours on Tuesdays, three independent sources at the regulatory body told HT. Airlines, however, are opposing the move.

mumbai Updated: Nov 13, 2009 01:28 IST
Soubhik Mitra

After a series of near misses on Mumbai airport’s shortened runway, a strong lobby in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is pushing for the entire runway to be shut for six hours on Tuesdays, three independent sources at the regulatory body told HT. Airlines, however, are opposing the move.

Top DGCA officials discussed this option with airlines on Thursday and will hold a meeting with Mumbai International Airport Limited executives on Friday. “Safety is a top priority even if that means inconveniencing passengers,” said one senior DGCA official requesting anonymity.

A full shutdown will also speed up repairs, which the airport wants to finish before the peak season in summer.

DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi neither confirmed nor denied the strong consensus for the full closure. “The review process is on. We are likely to find a solution in a couple of days,” he said.

The airport has witnessed four near misses on the three consecutive Tuesdays, when the main runway is partially shut for six hours for repairs.

Reeling under losses, airlines oppose a full closure because it will force them to cancel 82 scheduled arrivals and
landings.

“Tickets sold would have to be re-booked. It will upset flight schedules,” said a private airline official.

Some airlines are suggesting that the airport close part of the runway for three hours each on twice a week, but this in no way addresses the safety issue.