Worried by chaotic flight disruptions on smog-hit Tuesdays the Mumbai airport operator has called an ‘emergency meeting’ with airlines to prepare for the coming weeks.
“We will be meeting airlines in a couple of days to find a solution to this problem,” said the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson. The meeting is vital because smog — an unhealthy mix of smoke and fog — is likely to plague the city throughout winter. The airport’s sole functioning runway will be partially shut for repairs for another 15 Tuesdays.
On Tuesday, runway operations were suspended for about three hours because of low visibility due to smog. During the rest of the partial runway shutdown, only 19 flights out of 58 scheduled to operate, landed or took off. Weather sensors put up on the sides of the runway by the Indian Meteorological Department; currently record data consisting of visibility, wind speed and rainfall. These sensors send weather data to airlines and air traffic controllers every 30 minutes but that did not offer much help on Tuesday afternoon. Fourteen city-bound flights were diverted to nearby airports due to low visibility.
Airline sources said they were likely to operate fewer flights on forthcoming Tuesdays. Dwindling passenger volumes have forced domestic carriers to cut down flights during the partial shutdown. A series of near-mishaps and delays on previous Tuesdays have led to a 20 per cent drop in passenger loads.