The city’s airport operator will hire a consultant to conduct a study to improve its flight handling capacity.
Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) is expected to hire the consultant by the first week of November.
The move comes after a MIAL team visited UK’s Gatwick Airport, which has a single runway and handles double the air traffic of the Mumbai airport.
Gatwick, London’s second airport, handles around 50 to 60 flight movements (take-offs and landings) per hour as compared to Mumbai’s 30 operations despite having two runways.
“We have asked for proposals from agencies to carry out a capacity enhancement study,” said a MIAL spokesperson.
The move is critical for Mumbai, because the busiest airport of country until a year ago is losing out on traffic to other metro airports.
The civil aviation ministry has approved 630 slots to Delhi airport for domestic operations as compared to only 490 at Mumbai for the winter schedule between October and March.
The airport operator has chosen Gatwick as a case study because its infrastructure and weather is similar to Mumbai.
Better air navigational technology is one of main reasons that enable airports such as Gatwick to perform better despite limited infrastructure. Such airports use advanced methods such as the Air Flow Management System (AFMS). This system gives a real time update of incoming and departing flights to air traffic controllers.
If the controller knows that an arriving fight will touchdown in six minutes he can assess the time for which the runway will be occupied and give take-off clearance to another flight. AFMS also enables the flying crew to gauge the congestion at the destination airport before taking off.
“It also enables us reduce the distance between two aircraft and thereby increase capacity,” said an air traffic control official requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.