Flights arriving in Mumbai and those queueing up for take-off were delayed by about 45 minutes on Monday morning because heavy tailwinds forced the airport’s main runway to be shut for four hours.
At 10:43 am the air traffic control (ATC) refused permissions for take-offs and landings because flight movement when strong winds are blowing towards an aircraft’s tail could be unsafe.
The airport operator suspended construction work on the secondary runway and used it for flight movements. The smaller runway has been shut since October 10 for construction of an adjoining taxiway. A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson said that it took about 25 minutes to stop work and remove machinery and people from the secondary runway. “This is the approved turnaround time to make the runway operational,” said the spokesperson.
The ATC asked planes circling above the airport to revise the landing path, which delayed their arrival. The closure did not result in flight cancellations or diversions.
This was the second time in a month when tailwinds led to the closure of the main runway. Sources said that some airlines were against the secondary runway closure because that leaves the airport without a backup during such emergencies.
The civil aviation ministry approved the closure because the construction of a taxiway adjoining the runway would reduce the time planes take in vacating the runway.