Passengers flying in and out of Mumbai during late evening peak hours — 9.15pm to 11.15pm — are again facing delays due to air traffic congestion at the city airport. Incoming flights are being forced to circle above the airport due to errant flights entering the city airspace before their scheduled arrival time.
“Evenings are getting extremely chaotic because of the indiscipline,” said an Air Traffic Control (ATC) official, who did not wish to be named.
This is the second time this year that airlines have been found manipulating their schedules.
In April, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to draw a list of flights reaching Mumbai before their scheduled arrival time. Subsequent, the AAI found at least 70 flights reaching the city before time.
“We have warned airlines that flights arriving before time will be diverted to other airports, but the menace is still on,” said the ATC official.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokes-person confirmed that there was a problem. “We are taking help from the aviation regulator and stakeholders to solve the problem,” said the spokesperson, adding that recently a notice to airmen (NOTAM) was issued banning chartered flights from arriving in the city during the two-hour time slot.
Officials said that heavy rains and fluctuating visibility in the past one week have only added to the chaos.