Passengers flying in and out of the nation’s financial capital should brace for long delays from Tuesday till the end of November as the only runway of the nation’s second busiest airport will be shut for five hours for repair work. Last time the airport, operated by the GVK Group, was shut for similar repair work in November 2010. Months after the spanking new terminal-T2 over Rs 12,000-crore was opened in February. Operations will be partly hit between October 18 and 31 for four hours between 1200 hrs and 1600 hrs for seven days on alternate days, as the main runway (Runway No 09-27) will be closed for surface repair. But the secondary runway (14-32) will be open during these hours, a MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Ltd) official told PTI.
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But operations will be completely shut for five hours from 1200 hrs to 1700 hrs in the second phase beginning October 31 through November 28 as both the main and the secondary runways will be closed, the official said, adding this is needed as the repair work involves inter-section work. In total between October 31 and November 28, both the runways will be closed for five hours on Mondays and Thursdays, while in the first phase the main runway will be closed for four hours on seven days, the official said.
In total, the impact will be for nine days in November in the second phase of closure. Notably, the second busiest airport in the country, Mumbai International Airport has only one runway (as one-third of the airport land is occupied by slum squatters), yet it manages around 50 flights during peak hours, making it one of the most efficient airports in the world in terms of aircraft handling.
On an average, the city airport handles over 800 flights a day. Against this the Delhi airport, with three runways handles around 78 flights during peak hours. “The runways–09-27 main and 14-32–will remain closed between 1200 hrs and 1700 hrs on Mondays and Thursdays till November 28, to conduct ‘preventive runway surface work’, a technology to fill in gaps on the runway,” MIAL had said in an earlier statement last month wherein it advised airlines to reschedule their operations.
To avert delays and inconvenience to passengers, most of the airlines have started alternative plan of action. Low-cost carrier Indigo has said it would waive cancellation and rescheduling charges for flights affected by the closure. Jet Airways said in a statement today, “in light of the forthcoming closure of the Mumbai Airport runway from October 18 to end-November, we have revised our flight schedules for some of its flights arriving into/departing from Mumbai.”
“We are taking proactive steps to keep guests updated of revised timings and re-accommodation on alternate flights wherever necessary. Guests are also advised to check the revised schedules and updates on our website,” it said. Similarly, the largest carrier Indigo too said since the airport will not be available for operations between October 31 and November 28 on Mondays and Thursdays between 1200 and 1700 hrs, it is rescheduling flights to and fro Mumbai and passengers are requested to check the new timings with the airline.
Vistara is also coming up with a plan to adjust its operations according to the runway changes. Incidentally, Air India, which has the largest number of operations from the airport, is yet to announce its alternate arrangements.