Take-offs at Mumbai airport were disrupted for more than five hours on Thursday after workers repairing the secondary runway damaged crucial cables. Most departures were delayed by an hour.
These cables carry data that airlines use to issue boarding passes.
Hundreds of passengers were stuck in long queues as airlines resorted to issuing boarding passes manually. A few makeshift counters had to be set up to deal with the crisis that started at 1.30 pm.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson confirmed the damage to the cables and the delays.
“The 40 minute-wait to get a boarding pass left me with a back ache,” said Manoj Shimpi (55), who was travelling to Delhi.
This is the second glitch that repairs on the secondary runway have caused in one month. On February 11, the airport was paralysed for 20 minutes after power cables were damaged.
Airport sources said such glitches could happen again because there is no blueprint of the underground cable network that was laid 50 years ago. “There have been four or five minor glitches. Luckily none of the cables were connected to crucial infrastructure such as the ground surface radars,” said an air traffic control official, requesting anonymity.
Despite repeated attempts, Nasim Zaidi, director general of civil aviation, could not be reached for comment.