Facing an additional burden of manning about 60 flights owing to the closure of the Yemeni air space, the Mumbai air traffic control (ATC) has approached the United Nations-appointed global aviation watchdog for assistance.
The Mumbai ATC which handles about 720 take-offs and landings in Mumbai — the country’s second busiest airport — was forced to cater to the additional flights after strife-hit Yemen shut its aerial passage in March.
The city ATC establishment raised the concerns of the excess burden with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN-appointed aviation watchdog, last week, said sources. “The closure of the airspace has increased tremendous load on the Mumbai ATC. We are also forced to chip in for movements from Africa,” said a senior ATC official, requesting anonymity.
Before the civil war began in Yemen, flights from the Middle East bound to popular tourist hubs such as Seychelles, Mauritius and other destinations along the South African coast flew over Yemen on their way south. But since the passage was shut, these flights entered India through Muscat and passed through the Mumbai airspace to get to its destinations, said ATC officials.
“Flight movements between Kenya and China have increased immensely, following trade treaties between the two countries. These flights also seek our assistance since the Sana’a (Yemen’s capital city) air passage is not available,” said another senior ATC official.
The ICAO’s Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok did not respond to HT’s email on the concerns raised by the city ATC till the time of going to press.