There has been a 128 per cent increase in the passenger handling capacity at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) since it was taken over by Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) in 2006-07.
For the airport that presently handles close to 48 million passengers per annum (mppa) and races to increase its capacity to 60 mppa, managing operations using its single, most-congested runway continues to be a challenge.
According to figures shared by MIAL, while 13.65 mppa flew in and out of Mumbai to international destinations in the last financial year, the airport handled close to 34.85 mppa.
There has been a 4.3 per cent increase in the annual flight movements in the past 12 years.
“Collaboration with different authorities in the government, including Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation were our priorities when we took over. Providing better amenities to passengers, which can increase traction towards the airport was the aim,” a senior airport official said.
With a single runway, the airport handles close to 950 air traffic movements every day, which exceeds to 980 movements on busy days, said the official.
“For years, Mumbai has survived on a single runway to handle flight operations. Increasing operational capacity could be possible only if the airport receives a parallel runway. Due to paucity of land, that may not be an option,” a former airport official said.
Slums and increased height of buildings have remained the major obstacles for the airport to increase its operational capacity.
“The airport should look at increasing manpower to handle operations during peak hours. Increasing staff at baggage counters, check-in and also in the security forces — Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) should be aimed at. This can help reduce the queues building up at the counters during peak hours,” the official added.
On January 20, 2018 Mumbai airport created a new world record for single-runway operations by handling 980 arrivals and take-offs in 24 hours or almost one flight every minute.
“The government has to work towards beginning operations at Navi Mumbai International Airport at the earliest. It has reached to the maximum limit of its runway usage. Operating flight movements more than its capacity could lead to unsafe consequences,” said Mark Martin,CEO and founder at Martin Consulting, an aviation advisory firm.
Regular fliers at the airport claim parking costs could be rationalised. “For an additional minute of delay, the costs go up. Even the additional fee charged by rickshaws and app-based cabs for taking rides can be brought down,” Rajeev Sakseria, business professional, who flies thrice a month out of the airport said.