Passengers travelling to Mumbai will have to face disruption as the main runway of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport will remain closed from November 4 to March 28 for repair and maintenance work. The airport will be closed from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm from Monday to Saturday. The second runway of the airport will be operational during this time. Earlier this year, both the runways were closed from February 7 to March 30 due to maintenance work. Last time, more than 200 flights were cancelled in a single day due to closure of the main runway at Mumbai airport. Airfares had also increased by about 5-10 per cent for flights originating and landing at Mumbai airport during that period. Mumbai airport’s main runway to remain shut for six days a week from November 4. Closure of runway will result in cancellation of flights thereby paving way for increase in air fares. At a time when the new year is approaching increased fares and cancelled flights will cause huge inconvenience to passengers.
Airport official told Afternoon Voice, “There is no closure of runway, the airport is still operational. We have cross-runways; one is for maintenance and the other one for operations. The length of one runway is lesser than the other one. It is unable to accommodate the number of flights.”
The official further continued, “If the airport will close then we all will also suffer loss. But the safety is of prime importance. So we have shifted the operation of the first runway to the second runway. And the work is going on the primary runway.”
“The airlines have been informed about the unavailability of the primary runway at the Mumbai airport about a year back so that they could prepare their operations accordingly,” she added.
When asked about the increase in airfares she said, “Every authority is regulated and GVK controls everything. We will not allow any air companies to go beyond a certain margin.”
The Mumbai airport is the second busiest in the country and handles approximately 1000 flight movements in a day. Delhi is the busiest and handles nearly 1,300 flight movements daily. The primary runway at Mumbai airport can handle up to 50 arrivals and departure per hour.
Airhostess Kavina Joshi said, “The runway is closed due to maintenance so we can’t blame the authority. But yes because of closure of flights are getting delayed and cancelled. From the crew point of view, it becomes a little difficult for us to handle passengers because they get annoyed due to delay on the ground. However, after getting into the aircraft some understand that it’s not our fault but others simply try to remove their anger on us.”
“Due to maintenance work on the airport our duty time increases because of circling sometimes and not getting the slot for landing post closure,” she added.
The second runway will be operational during the stretch which can handle at least 36 flights an hour. During festival and holidays the main runway of Mumbai airport will be operational at all hours. According to a press release, the runway will be fully functional on December 25, January 1, February 19 and 21, March 10 and 25. With the partial closure, there will be a likely change in the routes of many aircraft. The timings of several international and domestic flights will be changed during this period.
Mumbai airport, the second busiest airport in the country, handled 48.5 million domestic and international passengers in 2018, according to data from the Association of Private Airport Operators. The airport witnesses more than 900 arrivals and departures every day. Due to monsoons, the runway maintenance work has been postponed, Mumbai airport operator GVK Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said. Earlier, the repair work of the runway was to start from November.