Harrowed by a series of chaotic Tuesdays in the past weeks, hundreds of fliers avoided travel during the six-hour partial runway shutdown at the Mumbai airport on Tuesday.
“Passenger load during the afternoon on Tuesdays has dropped by around 20 per cent,” said Rajesh Rateria, managing director of Cirrus Travels. Drop in passenger load prompted airlines to cancel, club or reschedule flights to later in the day.
Despite 84 slots available only 58 flights took off and landed on the curtailed runway.
GoAir, for instance, did not operate a single flight during the period. Indigo, another budget carrier, cancelled one flight. “Jet Airways and Jetlite also clubbed a few flights,” added Rateria.
The Tuesday troubles have affected airlines’ punctuality. Air India has in fact written a letter to the directorate general of civil aviation to consider the ground congestion in Mumbai before issuing the on-time performance (OTP) report. Last month the national carrier had the second worst punctuality report.
Delays continued to plague flight operations but advance warnings from airlines ensured that passengers did not have kill time at the terminal. “Airlines have been calling well in advance in case of delays. We had enough time to inform passengers,” said Anup Kanuga, chairman, (western region) Travel Agent Association of India.
People buying tickets on their own received text alerts on the cell phones. “It was far better this time. We got two updates from the airlines,” said Diwakar Patil, who was travelling to Delhi. Most departures ran 30 to 40 minutes behind schedule partly because the airport congestion has increased taxiing time.
The airports witnessed four air mishaps over the last four Tuesdays. It started on November 27, with Jetlite dumping passenger baggage for a safe take off. A GoAir flight aborted landing twice the following week and a Kingfisher flight skidded off the runway the subsequent week.
The runway will be shut for six hours every Tuesday until March 31.