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Smaller airports to handle traffic from big ones during emergencies, says AAI

The guidelines for airport directors, effective from Tuesday, were issued for the time when aircraft are unable to land at their destination airport.

mumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2018 10:02 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,mumbai news,air traffic

To lessen passenger inconvenience in case of an emergency leading to airport closure, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued guidelines to effectively handle air traffic and stranded passengers at smaller airports.

The guidelines for airport directors, effective from Tuesday, were issued for the time when aircraft are unable to land at their destination airport. Citing the example of an aircraft overshooting the runway at Mumbai airport last year, AAI said such incidents lead to large-scale flight diversions, putting pressure on other major airports that handle such flights.

The operational circular stating guidelines for various stakeholders asks airport directors to prepare a local standard operating procedure (SOP) within 30 days after taking into account the nature of the airport, local weather conditions and availability of parking stands.

The guidelines include complex topics like maintaining serviceability of aerodrome lighting, communication and navigation surveillance to simple topics like handling passengers efficiently and managing the traffic flow. AAI stated that guidelines were issued to keep facilities at diversion airports proactive to ensure that everything is available, and diversion airports are ready to receive the flights.

Airline operators have been asked to arrange for refreshments to on-board passengers even if the waiting time at alternate airport is less than two hours. If the waiting time exceeds two hours, the airline will ask disembark passengers. AAI has also asked airlines to update stranded passengers via text messages.

Recently passenger growth at major airports such as Mumbai has not only highlighted capacity constraints but has taken a toll on smaller airports - for instance when a major airport closes down due to an untoward incident. Therefore in such an emergency situation, all aircrafts are diverted to nearby small airports leading to congestion since they have to handle more than scheduled flights.

“In the case of a SpiceJet aircraft overshooting the runway in Mumbai last year, the flight had to be diverted but there were no slots available at nearby airports. AAI has tried to combine all the guidelines for handling diversion planning and management of flights, and issued the circular for the destination and alternate airports and all the departments of AAI and how traffic ha to be handled. This is to ensure that whenever operations at major airports are stopped leading to diversions, all air traffic can be handled efficiently,” said a senior AAI official.

Another AAI official explained that if Mumbai airport is shut down then the traffic has to be diverted to nearby places. “Preferred airports to divert flights from Mumbai are Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Indore. However, these airports have such limited parking facilities that even their combined facilities will be unable to handle all flight diversions from Mumbai.”

First Published: Apr 06, 2018 10:02 IST