No slack time at airport, official tells MP

July 10, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 04:14 am IST

Civil Aviation Secretary writes to Kirit Somaiya about flights arriving in bunches

Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey has, in a letter to Lok Sabha MP Kirit Somaiya, said the delays at Mumbai airport are due to unavailability of slack time between arriving and departing flights.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Somaiya, the ministry last week said flights arriving in Mumbai come in bunches on being delayed elsewhere. “The required time is 2 minutes and 50 seconds between arriving flights to accommodate departures. This is not available and thus leads to delays,” Mr. Choubey said in his letter.

The letter was in response to the MP’s demand in January for a study regarding 45% of flights being delayed.

Mr. Choubey said he had the matter examined from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation and The Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL). The Civil Aviation Secretary said Mumbai is one of the country’s busiest airports.

The letter said, “It is a single runway-operational airport catering to 940 flights per day, which includes scheduled, non-scheduled and general aviation flights. From July 2017, flights under the Regional Connectivity Scheme are also operating from the airport, which are mostly the fleet of turbo-prop aircraft.”

Noting that Mumbai’s peak declared capacity was 46 aircraft movements per hour, Mr. Choubey said this capacity can be acheived without any delay if all aircraft arrive from different airports one after the other exactly on time so that Mumbai airport could ensure 23 arrivals plus 23 departures per hour without much delay in movements.

He said, “The average gap-time desired at Mumbai airport between arrivals is 2 minutes and 50 seconds for accommodating one departure between these arrivals. However, it is reported that most of the time, a large number of aircraft come in bunches due to delays elsewhere. This in turn results in departure delays because there is no slack time available for accommodating delayed departures.”

The letter concluded that AAI, as an air navigation service provider, was taking measures to ensure all flights are handled in a safe, orderly and quick manner.

When GVK’s MIAL took over the airport in 2006, it was handling 584 arrivals and take-offs daily. Over the years, as the Indian aviation market continued to grow, Mumbai airport began handling over 900 flights per day with a flight arriving or taking off every 54 seconds.

On June 5, the airport handled 1,003 take-offs and landings, breaking its own record of handling 988 flight movements in a day and making it the highest traffic on any given day at any single runway airport in India till date.

The average gap-time desired between arrivals is 2 minutes and 50 seconds for accommodating one departure between these arrivals

R.N. Choubey

Civil Aviation Secretary

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