From October, domestic fliers into and out of Mumbai will be faced with not just fewer flights, but increased fares.
The government has cut take-off and landing slots at the city airport by at least 12 between October 1 and March 31 and experts feel this reduction of 30 flights a day — which amounts to 3,000 fewer seats — will push airfares up by 20 per cent.
Alok Sinha, joint secretary, civil aviation ministry told HT: “We have reduced domestic slots from 502 to 490.”
The Ministry of Civil Aviation flights at the country’s second busiest airport for two reasons: The airport is handling more than its capacity of flights, with four to five flights in the same scheduled departure timing during morning peak hours; the closure of the main runway for nine hours a day — for eight months beginning November — will increase pressure as the secondary runway cannot handle more than 28 take-offs and landings in an hour.
The city’s air traffic controllers want the ministry to reduce another 20 slots for smooth operations.
“It will definitely hit airfares,” said Ankur Bhatia from aviation consultancy firm Bird Group. He added that airlines might want to shift to Delhi or Bangalore, which have better capacity.
Fights at the airport from March to June will continue to be fewer than normal, although the number is yet to be decided.