Mumbai: Runway repairs at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) will be completed by 30 March, an official said, likely easing congestion and tamping down soaring airfares. The congestion due to the maintenance work at India’s second busiest airport resulted in a 30-50% rise in airfares on late bookings in March, for both inbound and outbound flights. According to online travel portal Yatra, airfares are expected to stabilize in the coming months.

“A combination of factors is leading to moderation of fares. With expectations of aircraft coming in (at Jet Airways), and completion of runway work at Mumbai, prices are expected to stabilize by April-end and early-May," said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer, (B2C), Yatra Online.

Jet Airways, which had to ground a major part of its fleet due to non-payment of lease rentals, plans to restart 50 flights by March-end, and get back 40 of its grounded planes on the skies by April-end.

Dhall, however, expects airfares to be 5-10% higher in May compared with the year-ago period. “The fares will not come back to the 2018 levels. We expect 5-10% growth, which is healthy and normal for the industry."

Mumbai airport has seen a partial shutdown since 7 February, following repair works at the intersection of the two runways, leading to closures during peak hours.

The last extensive repair work on the runways was done in 2009-10, said a spokesperson for Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd (MIAL), which operates the airport. He added that the average life of a runway in Mumbai is 8-10 years.

MIAL is a joint venture between a GVK-led consortium (74%) and Airports Authority of India (26%).

“The runway at the Mumbai airport will be fully operational from 5pm onwards on 30 March," said the MIAL spokesperson. The runway was ready, he added, but pending lighting works were expected to be completed soon.

On a normal day, the CSIA handles as many as 940 flights. The airport, however, can operate only one runway considering that simultaneous operation of its cross runways is too complicated. In comparison, New Delhi airport has three near-parallel runways.

Airlines, who had diverted capacity to other routes during the partial closure of the Mumbai airport, will now redeploy capacity on Mumbai-bound flights.

“We had added wide-body aircraft on Mumbai routes during the time of repair work. In addition, more narrow-body aircraft will be deployed on the route to cater to demand," said an Air India official, requesting anonymity.