It has been over 10 days since the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) warned airlines to cut down delays, but that has made little difference to Kushal Nichlani’s chaotic business trip to Chennai.
The 42-year-old frequent flier spent about 35 minutes taxiing on the Mumbai airfield on Monday. “This is third time in less than a week when I rescheduled a meeting from my Blackberry,” said Nichlani, a senior executive with an information technology company in Andheri.
On October 21, a week before Mumbai’s (the country’s busiest airport) 22-week-long runway revamp programme began and Delhi’s (the second busiest) awaits the fog season, the DGCA issued a circular asking airport operators, airlines and air traffic control (ATC) officials to pull up their socks to reduce delays.
The regulator asked ATC officials across all airports to evenly distribute departures with no more than five take-offs in 10 minutes and a total of 30 take-offs per hour.
As per the new directive, pilots should ask for pushback (take-off signal) at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. If the pilot fails to do so in five minutes, he will be sent back to the long departure queue.
But the diktat has made little difference to travel woes in Mumbai. With the secondary runway shut for three months and the main runway partially shut every Tuesday, about 80 per cent departures are grappling with an average delay of 30 minutes daily.
“Taxiing time has increased dramatically, especially for aircraft parked in remote bays since many taxiways are shut for repairs. Flights spent a long time reaching the runway,” said an ATC official requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Another reason for the limited impact is lack of proper implementation of the directive. “Aircraft movement is very slow because of massive repair works on the airfield. It is difficult to adhere to the new directive,” said the ATC official.
Nasim Zaidi, director general, DGCA, said that the regulator is looking into the matter. He, however, did not comment on whether the body would take any action against defaulters.