Could Mumbai’s 5 Month Runway Closure Affect Operations

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 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 metres. Throughout its closure, all service 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 in excess of 2,000. Mumbai will now be flying fewer services which is bad news in itself. But what’s more, is that 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 limited seating. In addition to this, in just one day during the three-day maintenance period at the airport, over 200 flights were cancelled. 


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