The air traffic control (ATC) office at Mumbai airport is upset with the airport operator’s decision for opening the complete runway only to three foreign airlines.
Other airlines have been forced to reduce their passenger and cargo-carrying capacity to adjust landing on the main runway, because 340 metres on one end is shut for repairs since September 23.
The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) granted the special permission to Singapore Airlines, Saudi Airlines and US carrier Continental Airlines because they don’t use the secondary runway citing safety risks.
But ATC officials claim that other airlines had to reduce their payload for operations on the shortened runway.
“They could accuse them of favouring select airlines,” said an ATC official requesting anonymity, because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
Senior ATC officials raised the matter with the MIAL management at a meeting on Tuesday, but the spokesperson said they will to the procedure, and refused comment on the issues raised.
MIAL had suggested that the ATC ask the ground staff to suspend work as per the arrival timings of flights operated by these airlines. Each operates a flight daily.
On the basis of the ATC instruction, the airport operator halts work and asks construction workers to clear the 340-metre stretch being repaired for widening of a underground drain and expansion of a taxiway. Subsequently, the Instrument Landing System (ILS), which is located on that end of the runway, is activated. ILS is a ground-based instrument approach system that guides an approaching airport using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during reduced visibility.
The secondary runway does not have this aid.
However, the disagreement between the ground staff and navigation handlers has led to confusion. On October 27, for instance, a Singapore Airline carrying hovered above the airport for at least 20 minutes before being diverted to Chennai because the runway was not ready for landing.