Starting from July 28, air passengers are likely to spend more time taxiing on the Mumbai airport, as some taxiways and parking stands will be blocked for repairs in phases. The repair work will continue till mid-September.
The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) asking pilots to be careful while taxiing aircraft once the repair work starts. The construction activity is part of the development plan of the X-shaped integrated domestic and international terminal coming up in Sahar.
The NOTAM states that pilots should be cautious of equipment lying in the area under construction. Certain parts of the taxiways will be dug open and re-built. “We would demarcate the trenches with red and white flags and illuminate them with omni-directional red lights,” said an AAI official. He added, “The obstruction or spotlights are different from the usual airfield lighting so that pilots do not get confused.”
While the airport operator has ensured the safety of flight movement, delays owing to long taxi time would be inevitable. “Some taxi lanes would be shut forcing flights to take a longer route while shuttling between the terminal and the tarmac,” said senior operations official with a private airline.
Getting used to a new taxi route also takes time. “Passenger safety is of prime importance to us. As a result, we taxi slowly in Mumbai,” said a Boeing commander with a private carrier.
But airport sources said the repair work would improve the connectivity between terminal and the runway. “The Sahar terminal will also have a network of aerobridges, which will save the time taken by an airline coach to ferry passengers to the aircraft,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson.