After more than three days of flight delays, passengers got respite on Monday as the Turkish Airline plane, stuck in the mud off the airport’s main runway since Friday, was towed away in the morning.
The city airport’s main runway was opened for flight operations, after being closed for more than three days. “At 6.51 am, the primary runway was handed over to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) for flight movement,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson.
An Air India flight to Kolkata was the first to take off from the main runway on Monday morning. At around 1.17 am, rescued staff had tied cables to the plane and used a tow tractor to pull it back on the tarmac. The aircraft was then towed to the Air India hangar. The next few hours were used to clear the machinery and construction debris from the runway.
The plane had skidded off the runway on Friday morning. On Sunday evening, the final stage of removing the aircraft could not be completed, because the plane’s nose wheel slipped into the mud again, during the towing operation. “We had to remove the soil and extend the concrete pathway again,” said a member of the rescue staff, requesting anonymity.
The Air India staff — the only ones trained in aircraft recovery work in the country — then fixed air bags and aircraft jacks under the plane to the lift it. “It was done according to the manual that comes with the disabled aircraft recovery kit," said the rescue worker.
The closure of the main runway, coupled with bad weather, had led to last minute diversions of many flights, cancellations and average delays of up to an hour over the weekend.