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Mumbai airport aims high; sets eyes on 48 flights per hour by next year

Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is aiming for 48 flights an hour by next year in an effort to add more capacity to the already saturated airport.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Mumbai |
March 11, 2011 11:12:33 pm

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) is aiming for 48 flights an hour by next year in an effort to add more capacity to the already saturated airport. If approved,it would mean a few additional flights a day for passengers travelling in and out of Mumbai.

Last year,the MIAL got UK’s air traffic service provider NATS to study how the capacity of the airport can be increased. NATS made a presentation on Thursday to the Civil Aviation Ministry.

MIAL is taking inspiration from UK’s Gatwick airport,which can do 60 movements per hour using a single runway. “They are proposing 48 flight movements an hour. If this proposal is approved by the DGCA,it would take another year to implement,” said a senior official present in the meeting.

Mumbai has a cross runway 14-32 and simultaneous runway operations occur during the peak hours in the morning and evening.

A MIAL spokesperson said currently the airport does around 34 movements an hour on an average,but airport officials said on a day-to-day basis,the number is much higher. “To achieve this,pilots will have to be educated on clearing the runway in the shortest time possible and air traffic controllers will have to undergo additional training. MIAL will also have to build more rapid exit taxiways,” the official said.

Lack of new slot availability at CSIA is one reason why airlines have found it difficult to introduce new flights in and out of Mumbai despite the growing passenger traffic.

Over the past two years,the Civil Aviation Ministry rejected proposals from at least 15 international airlines who were keen to start operations to Mumbai. Analysts said this mismatch in demand and supply is one of the reasons why airfares out of Mumbai shoot up during the peak travelling season. Poor runway infrastructure is another reason why flights end up hovering over Mumbai airport for 20-40 minutes,waiting to land.

Airport officials said 48 movements an hour is not an unreasonable target and in fact on Monday,the airport saw 806 movements despite the secondary runway being in use from 9 am to 5 pm.

“It seems like a marginal increase,which should not be difficult,especially next year when the main runway will be in use again. On paper,MIAL has already approved 44 flight movements per hour for Mumbai,including 36 commercial flights per hour and an additional eight general aviation aircraft movements. Another four movements won’t be tough,” an airport official said.

Currently,the main runway is under renovation. As a result,the secondary runway is in use from 9 am to 5 pm,which has lesser capacity to handle flights per hour. “On a good day,when weather conditions are perfect,runway 09-27 can do 44 flight movements an hour,according to the ATC. The secondary runway 14-32 can do up to 36 flight movements an hour. When weather conditions are not ideal,flights spill over to the next hour,adding to the cumulative delays,” added the official.

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