Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, also known as Mumbai Airport, is planning a closure on its main runway which will cut short flights at its premises for a five-month period.
What is happening?
Starting 1st November 2019 until 28th March 2020, Runway 09/27 at Mumbai Airport will be closed between the hours of 9 am and 5.30 pm, according to a media contact for Mumbai International Airport Limited who spoke to Live Mint. There will be no commercial flights on the runway between these times as it undergoes mandatory re-carpeting.
This process is recommended to be carried out once every 10 years and can include general maintenance as well as applying a new layer of tar in order to improve safety and efficiency.
The runway re-carpeting project at Mumbai Airport will mean that its second runway will be used whilst the main one is out of action.
How will operations be affected?
Once the longest commercial runway in India, Runaway 09/27 can facilitate a total of 46 flights per hour over a length of 3,600 meters. Throughout its closure, all services will be swapped onto the second runway, creating cuts to the number of operations per hour.
Not only can the second runway only take 36 flights per hour (cutting capacity by around 22%) but the closure has also meant that airlines have had to prepare themselves for the re-scheduling and delays the maintenance will cause.
Whilst an airport can always plan contingencies for large projects such as this, they cannot always prevent nor anticipate the inevitable passenger disruption this work can cause. Earlier this month, San Francisco International Airport closed its runway for 20 days as it underwent structural work which caused delays and cancellations to more than 2,000 flights.
Mumbai will now be flying fewer services which is bad news in itself. What’s more, the closure coincides with one of the busiest flying periods in the calendar. This will cause expensive fares to further increase without passengers really feeling any benefit.
Earlier this year, Mumbai Airport closed both of its runways, which caused a 5-10% price increase on airfares, according to Live Mint, due to limited services and seats. In addition to this, in just one day during the three-day maintenance period at the airport, over 200 flights were cancelled.
The closures will affect airlines too
Figures like this definitely don’t bode well for the airport, nor for the airlines who have invested more into their operations with Mumbai Airport.
Amid the Jet Airways demise, many airlines have been taking up slots at international airports across the globe, including British Airways. In April this year, we reported that the airline would be increasing its service from Heathrow to Mumbai by adding four more services per week, taking it to 18 services a week.
In May, Virgin Atlantic also announced that it would be flying into Mumbai from London Heathrow starting 27th October 2019. But Mumbai Airport has got its work cut out in scheduling unless it wants the inaugural flights on Virgin’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to be met with complaints.
What should passengers do?
Well, Mumbai Airport seems rather silent on the matter. There is no information on its website for passengers as of yet and the only press releases published have detailed how journey tickets will increase in price as opposed to detailing how the airport will manage the situation.
However, it is believed that the airport will be working hard to ensure efficiency is reached on its second runway whilst the work is being completed. As always, passengers should check with their airline before they fly to keep abreast with changes, delays and cancellations.
How do you think operations will be affected? Will you be flying to Mumbai Airport during this period? Let us know in the comments!