Expect more flight delays. The Mumbai airport has extended the February 1-deadline for completing the repairs on its secondary runway to March 11.
The secondary runway, which handled 150 departures daily, was shut on October 1, 2009, for relaying its surface. The repair work was to be completed by February 1.
The airport’s primary runway is also partially shut for six hours every Tuesday for repairs.
“From mid-November, flight movements have gone up from 650 to 705 every day and a further increase is expected. Thus, long delays will be inevitable,” said an Air Traffic Control (ATC) official, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has blamed the increased air traffic for the delay in completing the repairs.
“Due to the growth in air traffic in the last three months, we had to delay the closure of some infrastructure, that is part of the secondary runway upgrade, to minimise the impact on airlines. Therefore, the deadline has been extended,” said a spokesperson of MIAL.
“This is terrible news. We were expecting to improve our on-time performance, which has suffered due to the only one runway being available in Mumbai since October,” said Jitendra Bhargava, Air India’s executive director, corporate communications.
Though the airport claims to have completed 80 per cent of the repair work, sources said the smaller runway is not likely to be ready before March-end.
ATC officials said non-availability of the cross-runway would increase delays in outgoing flights.
The deadline for completing repairs on the primary runway is March 31. The ATC official added that two taxiways, currently under construction, would be ready only in April.
In December 2009, the city airport recorded 25.8 lakh passengers — the highest number for travellers handled by any Indian airport in a month.
Going by bookings, international routes and domestic sectors are full until February 15. “Passengers load across airlines are good till February,” said Anup Kanuga of Bathija Travels.