Nine in ten flights have been taking off on time from Mumbai airport during peak hours since August 1, up from less than half of all departures that were punctual before air traffic control began imposing a stiff penalty on airlines for delays starting in mid-July.
Moreover, punctuality has improved in a period when the airport has had to shut one of its two runways for much of the time because heavy rain pushed visibility below the safe limit of 2,500 metres ahead of the aircraft.
Punctuality gradually improved after July 19, when the airport scrupulously began sending flights that did not take off exactly at their schedules times to the back of the departure queue. Before that date, only 45 out of 100 flights scheduled to take off between 5:30 am and 9 am, the peak departure period, left on time. By July 24, 74 flights departed punctually and by July 31, 84 did.
“Now the challenge is to maintain this discipline,” said M.G. Jhungare, general manager of air traffic control for the western region..
Impressed by the turnaround in Mumbai, the civil aviation ministry enforced the same rule in Delhi on August 2 and is likely to do so at four other busy airports, such as Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, by September-end.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had announced the penalty eight months ago but began enforcing it only last month, starting with Mumbai.