The Mumbai airport’s secondary runway opened for operations on Thursday evening, more than three months after it was shut for the construction of a rapid exit taxiway.
The project was completed eight days ahead of the January 20 deadline. “The new taxiway will improve the efficiency of the secondary runway,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson.
The second runway will ease the load on the main runway, which has been single-handedly managing all the 720-odd take-offs and landings at the airport every day, since October 10 last year.
The new taxiway will speed up the exit of aircraft from the smaller runway. “A faster runway exit will cut the time spent by flights circling above the airport and also boost the airport’s capacity for handling flights,” said an air traffic control (ATC) official requesting anonymity.
Last year, the civil aviation ministry has asked the Mumbai airport operator to construct the taxiway to avoid delays during the main runway closure later this year. The airport’s main runway will be shut next month due to construction of a similar taxiway before the monsoon. The dates for the closure are yet to be finalised.
The construction activity is part of the airport’s long-term plan to increase the number of take-offs and landings from 30 per hour to 48 per hour. The plan to improve runway efficiency by adding more taxiways was approved last year based on a study by NATS, a UK-based agency that has helped airports such as Gatwick in London nearly double its capacity.