Long waits at the Mumbai airport’s tarmac have become a part of the itinerary for hundreds of people flying in and out of the city.
Grading work on the main runway and frequent tailwinds (winds towards the course of a flight) are holding flights back.
The work takes place for 10 hours every day and will take at least three weeks to finish. The work is being carried out from 10 am to 6 pm, which though not the peak time, is leading to delays.
According to air traffic control officials, most flights are running about 30 minutes behind schedule.
The main runway cannot be used during low visibility and strong tailwinds have been frequently disrupting operations on the other runway.
“The past few days have been very chaotic. We had to suspend work, wait for the construction workers to clear the main runway and shift traffic back to the main runway,” said an air traffic control official requesting anonymity.
He added: “Grading work is important to avoid water clogging on the runway.”
On May 5, some Jet Airways passengers were stuck in Jaipur because the aircraft that was supposed to ferry them to the city was stuck in Mumbai. Strong tailwinds disrupted operations for about 25 minutes.
The Air Traffic Control has issued Notice to Airmen so that airlines are prepared for the delays caused by grading work.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson said: “Grading work is not carried out from 5 am to 9 am and 7 pm to 11 pm (the peak hours).”
Flight delays have been common in Mumbai because both the runways were under repairs until last month.
The main runway was partially shut for six hours on 22 Tuesdays from October 27 to March 23 and the secondary runway was completely shut for more than six months starting from October 1.
The delays have also been affecting airlines on-time performance.