Subscription Subscription
Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Mumbai Despite flight cuts airport struggles with congestion

Mumbai: Despite flight cuts, airport struggles with congestion

Updated on: 26 February,2024 06:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prasun Choudhari |

Experts warn of the extremely challenging impact of reduced flights at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Despite flight cuts, airport struggles with congestion

Aviation experts question the efficacy of reduced flight operations. File pic

Key Highlights

  1. CSMIA continues to struggle with the issue of air traffic congestion
  2. CSMIA maintains its status as the busiest airport
  3. According to officials, December 2023 marked a peak in its monthly traffic

Despite a reduction in hourly flight operations, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) continues to struggle with the issue of air traffic congestion. Currently, CSMIA maintains its status as the busiest airport, surpassing others with a single runway in terms of flight operations. According to officials, December 2023 marked a peak in its monthly traffic, reaching 4.88 million passengers. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had mandated a reduction in flights at the city airport. Aviation experts question the effectiveness of reduced flight operations. Captain Mohan Ranganathan, aviation expert, said, “The impact of reduced flight operations seems constrained, as congestion remains a significant challenge for both airlines and airport authorities.”

Talking about why Mumbai airport gets so crowded, another expert, who didn’t want to be named, said, “Even if one plane is delayed, it messes up the schedule for other flights. A plane usually flies to many cities in a day, and if it’s late, it affects all its flights. Mumbai has two terminals but only one runway is used at a time, unlike Delhi’s airport, which has four runways and three terminals. Even with fewer flights, planes are still late, causing a lot of trouble for passengers. For example, this morning (February 25), an IndiGo flight had to circle above the airport for almost half an hour because the runway wasn’t clear.”

Multiple airlines have cancelled flights from Mumbai airport. File pic
Multiple airlines have cancelled flights from Mumbai airport. File pic

He added, “Mumbai airport is still the busiest because of how many flights it handles. Besides regular passenger flights, it also deals with cargo planes, private jets and VIP movement. The congestion happens because there are too many flights scheduled too close together, and sometimes airlines don’t stick to their schedules, especially during busy times.”

Air congestion effect

Captain Ranganathan said, “Airports can only handle a certain number of flights at a time. But as more people want to fly, there are more planes, causing delays. When one plane is using the runway, another can’t land or take off, so it has to wait or hover in the air. This waiting makes flights late, and when many flights are late, it’s called congestion.”

“When planes have to wait in the air, they use up more fuel. Passengers get stuck on planes, waiting to land. They can’t leave until the runway is free and there’s a gate for them to park. This delay makes passengers uncomfortable and causes problems for airlines too,” he added.

Measures taken

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had stepped in to deal with the “constant congestion” at Mumbai airport. In a statement on February 13, the ministry said the congestion was caused by too many flights being scheduled too close together, airlines not sticking to their schedules, and unplanned flights during busy times. The ministry told the airport to make sure airlines followed the rules to ease the congestion.

The ministry in the statement said, “Mumbai airport is crowded, and that makes the airspace above the city crowded too. Flights end up circling the city for 40-60 minutes, waiting to land. To make things better, about 40 flights need to be cancelled every day to make sure flights can arrive and depart on time.” Earlier, on January 2, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) told Mumbai airport to reduce the number of flights from 46 to 44 per hour when the runway is busy, and from 44 to 42 when it’s not as busy.

What airlines say

IndiGo, in a statement, said, “As per directives to ease congestion at Mumbai airport, there have been certain cancellations from February 15 and affected passengers are being informed and provided with options to either avail a full refund, travel to an alternate sector or reschedule their flight.”

Akasa Air has stopped flights between Mumbai and Bengaluru until March 30 to help with the congestion.” Vistara has also cancelled eight flights per day from February 19 to February 30, according to sources. Air India didn’t say anything about the congestion, and an Air India Express spokesperson said they didn’t have many flights in Mumbai anyway.

Will reducing flights help?

Another aviation expert said, “Mumbai airport can’t handle any more flights. Things won’t get much better until the new airport in Navi Mumbai opens. When the new airport starts working, it will take some pressure off Mumbai airport. Until then, airlines will have to cancel flights, and it is likely more planes will stay on the ground.” Captain Ranganathan said, “Just cancelling flights for a while won’t fix the problem. When flights are cancelled, ticket prices usually go up because there are fewer seats. We need to look at why there’s so much congestion and fix that. We have to find ways to manage the congestion until the new airport opens.”

4.88 million
No of passengers at Mumbai airport in Dec 2023

Feb 13
Day aviation ministry stepped in

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Register for FREE
to continue reading !

This is not a paywall.
However, your registration helps us understand your preferences better and enables us to provide insightful and credible journalism for all our readers.

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK