To ease congestion and improve timely departures, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has ordered Mumbai Airport reduce the number of scheduled flights and limit the movement of business aircraft during peak hours, according to a report from the Economic Times (ET). This measure is expected to affect about 40 flights and disrupt the operations of private jets used by some of the country’s main commercial entities.
Instructions to the airport include reducing aircraft movement from 46 to 44 during peak hours and from 44 to 42 during non-peak hours. Consequently, airlines like IndiGo and Air India group, including Vistara, will have to cut their flight schedules.
The curfew for the operation of commercial aircraft has also been extended from four to eight hours, prompting objections from large business groups such as Reliance Industries, JSW and the Mahindra group.
The new restrictions are reportedly a response to declining on-time departure numbers at the airport due to airline overscheduling and increased demand for air travel. In addition, the airport’s infrastructure limits the number of parking spaces and runway occupancy, which has reportedly exacerbated the situation.
Going forward, airports have been instructed to consider unforeseen circumstances when forecasting peak hour capacity in the upcoming summer schedule.
The sudden change in the international airport’s schedule could disrupt redeployment plans and cause financial losses to the airlines, the airport and passengers. The additional restrictions on business aircraft have raised concerns among industry stakeholders, particularly with respect to Mumbai’s functionality as the country’s commercial hub.
Congestion issues have been reported at airports across the country as demand for air travel has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Airports have also come under scrutiny after many flights in the northern part of the country suffered delays and cancellations due to dense fog in mid-January. Last month’s chaos revealed concerns at both airline and airport managements, especially after a video showing passengers eating on the tarmac next to planes at the Mumbai airport went viral.
First published: February 13, 2024 | 10:51 am IS