The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought over 40 slots at the Delhi and Mumbai airport for the operation of flights under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), UDAN. The demand has baffled the two airport operators who are facing severe capacity crunch, amid increasing requests from the scheduled operators for more slots, a source said.
At present, Delhi airport handles around 1,200 aircraft movements per day with three runways whereas Mumbai airport which has single runway operations has some 900 arrivals and departures per day. The Ministry at a recent stakeholders meeting on UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) urged the private operators of the two metro airports–DIAL and MIAL–to provide 24 slots at Delhi and 20 slots at Mumbai airport for the RCS flights, a source said.
The Ministry is expected to announce the names of the RCS flight operators as well as the routes soon, and “it wants the Delhi and Mumbai airport authorities to allocate slots for these flights,” the source said. The officials at Delhi and Mumbai airports confirmed that the Ministry has sought slots at their airports but refused to divulge details.
The scheme, known as UDAN, seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports as well as make flying more affordable. Among others, the ticket price is capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour flight. The state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the implementing agency for the scheme. It has received 43 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering RCS routes and 92 airports. Out of these aerodromes, 12 are under-served and 50 are unserved.
“Mumbai airport is somehow able to manage the current slot position with efficiency. At times, the aircraft movement goes up to 54 flights per hour against a declared capacity of 45 flights per hour. When there are no slots even for scheduled airlines, acceding to the Ministry’s demand of 20 slots is a big challenge for the airport operator,” the source said.
According to the source, aircraft parking space is a big problem at Delhi airport than the slots. “Moreover, with as much as 70 per cent of the airspace in Delhi with the Defence authorities, it is getting increasingly difficult for the air traffic control to adjust more planes in the airspace,” the source said.