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Business News/ Industry / Better punctuality at Mumbai airport comes with higher fares too
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Better punctuality at Mumbai airport comes with higher fares too

Earlier this month, the ministry curbed the number of flights at the Adani group operated airport and criticized it for not taking proactive measures to ease congestion

Just 4% of arrivals were delayed over 30 minutes in the 16-24 February period.Premium
Just 4% of arrivals were delayed over 30 minutes in the 16-24 February period.

New Delhi: The Mumbai airport saw fewer delays in flight arrivals following recent measures to resolve congestion and delays, bringing relief to thousands of travellers transiting India's second-busiest airport daily.

Just 4% of arrivals were delayed over 30 minutes in the 16-24 February period compared to more than 26% during 11 November-10 December, the aviation ministry said. Similarly, 57% flights arrived with a delay of 0-15 minutes and 26% with a delay of 15-30 minutes in the February stretch, against 25% and 14% in November-December.

Earlier this month, the ministry curbed the number of flights at the Adani group operated airport and criticized it for not taking proactive measures to ease congestion.

"The combination of aircraft grounding and restriction of flights at Mumbai will have an impact on airfares, particularly in summer when demand peaks as people travel with families because of school holidays. Airfares are definitely going to rise. All in all, it will lead to increase in cost of travel," Ajay Prakash, board member, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality and president of Travel Agents Federation of India said.

The data, which covered 14,476 aircraft arrivals between 11 November and 10 December, and 4337 arrivals in the February period, also showed that before-schedule arrivals have also been reduced to 13% of flights as compared to 34.4% earlier.

"Aircraft operating earlier than the approved slot (marked as before-schedule in the data) lead to congestion and delay other aircraft adhering to the schedule, which in turn will have a cascading effect on other schedule movements. These movements were also targeted for improvements and airlines asked to adhere to the allotted slots," the ministry said.

As per an analysis by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), air traffic allowed per hour in Mumbai during the six hours of high intensity runway operations (HIRO, from 8 Am to 11 AM and 5 PM to 8 PM) was nearly the same as during the other 18 hours of the day, with unrestricted operations for general aviation and military aircraft. This, coupled with the operation of non-scheduled flights, worsens congestion during peak hours.

The ministry capped air traffic movements during HIRO from 46 to 44 flights per hour, and outside HIRO from 44 to 42 flights per hour, apart from curbs on general aviation during HIRO. The ministry said it is closely monitoring the air traffic situation at Mumbai.

However, fares continue to remain elevated due to curtailed capacity.

According to Gaurav Patwari, vice president, air category, Cleartrip, fares have gone up 7% since the curbs were introduced.

The congestion at the Mumbai airport was forcing flights to hover for 40-60 minutes, significantly wasting fuel—costing about 1.8 lakh for a 40-minute circling time to 2.6 lakh for 60 minutes. This not only raised airfares but also affected airport operations, resulting in delays.

The ministry had also observed that the snarl was due to excessive slot allocation by the airport operator for landing and departure with short intervals, airlines not adhering to their slots, and unscheduled flights during peak hours.

The Mumbai airport, with two intersecting runways, handles 950-1,000 flights a day and has a capacity to handle 55 million passengers per annum. The two intersecting runways cannot be operated simultaneously, resulting in single runway operations with a peak capacity of 46 aircraft movements per hour during high intensity operations and 44 aircraft movements otherwise. It handled 44 million passengers in FY23, marginally below the pre-pandemic number of 46 million passengers in FY20.

In April-December 2023, traffic at the Mumbai airport stood at 39 million passengers, up 24.5% on-year and 10% higher than the corresponding pre-covid period in 2019, as per the latest data from Airports Authority of India.

The Adani Group acquired a 74% stake in Mumbai’s international airport in July 2021 by picking up GVK Group’s 50.5% stake and a 23.5% stake from ACSA Global Ltd and Bid Services Division (Mauritius) Ltd (Bidvest).

 

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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 04:38 PM IST
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