Flight punctuality at Mumbai airport hit a new low in June. Data from the civil aviation ministry said that just over 69% flights taking off and landing in the city airport last month operated on schedule, making the airport the worst among the four privately-run metro airports.
Metros such as Delhi (80.88%), Bangalore (85.31%) and Hyderabad (82.08%), showed better punctuality than Mumbai. This meant that the airport’s on-time performance (OTP) was more than 13 percentage points below the average OTP of the other three airports.
Officials at domestic airlines said that congestion at the city airport was one of the primary factors to blame. “The airport has very high traffic and is congested. It also does not have the benefit of parallel runways and no buffer for delays. So when things slip up owing to the weather or any other reason it has a huge impact,” said Sanjeev Kapoor, chief operating officer with SpiceJet Airlines.
Almost 50% of the flights operated by the budget carrier in and out of Mumbai were delayed last month, which was the poorest OTP among six domestic airlines, the ministry data added.
Airlines sources added that air traffic congestion at the city airport has been worse particularly during the evening peak hour. “Often we have put out flight delay updates throughout Twitter handles owing to congestion at the city airport,” said a senior official with another private airline requesting anonymity.
The Mumbai airport operator’s in-house OTP reports showed that more than three out of 10 flights operating in and out of the city during the first half of the day were delayed in June. “Being land-locked (with no area to expand), the Mumbai airport had little space to improve its ground infrastructure. We are therefore experimenting with new air navigation technology to cut down congestion,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official from the airport.
One such concept is the Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM). ACDM comprises feeding scores of data such as flight plans, the runway in use and parking bays to be allotted to a particular incoming plane into a software. The system then uses the data to show real-time timelines to all airport departments involved in managing air traffic. The automation would help the time wastage in verbal communication between these departments, added airport officials.