Travellers flying out of Mumbai could face delays if the pilot operating their flight is caught taxiing slower than the limit set by city airport authority.
According to a circular issued by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Saturday, such flights would be sent to the back of the departure queue. The circular would come into effect from September 22. The new rule is being introduced to reduce the time an aircraft occupies on the runway so that the airport can handle more flights.
“Certain airlines are being reckless about sticking to the stipulated taxiing speed, leading to delays. The rule will also help us increase flight movements,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official.
According to AAI’s instructions, planes taxiing on a straight stretch of the airfield should maintain a speed of at least 15 nautical miles. Only when the pilot has to take a turn can the speed be reduced up to 12 nautical miles.
In a presentation to the civil aviation ministry, NATS, a UK-based service provider hired by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), mentioned reducing runway occupancy time as one of the main solutions to increase the airport’s flight movement capacity.
Officials said the ATC would reduce the distance between aircraft from five nautical miles to three nautical miles soon after this rule is implemented successfully.
The AAI circular has also warned pilots to complete pre-departures checks before entering the runway. “Often air crew leave pre-departures for the last minute and as a result miss their take-off time. They also block the runway,” added an ATC official. The circular also directs arriving aircraft to stop on taxiways unless in case of an emergency.
The ATC would keep a record of flights that fail to stick to the rule.