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  1. Air space congestion at Mumbai Airport costs airlines ₹1.8 to 2.6 lakh per flight

Air space congestion at Mumbai Airport costs airlines ₹1.8 to 2.6 lakh per flight

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2 min read • Updated: February 14, 2024, 3:58 PM

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Air traffic congestion has a cascading effect on the efficiency of airports operations leading to a longer wait time, inordinate delays, affecting both passengers and airlines adversely

Flights hovering over Mumbai. Image credit to the flight tracker Flightradar24

With uplifting of travel restrictions post pandemic, airports have witnessed a considerable increase in air traffic and airspace congestion. Mumbai Airport, being one of the busiest airports in the country, suffers from congestion and excess capacity on its runways, which inadvertently leads to airspace congestion, whereby flights are forced to hover over the city for a long duration of around 40-60 minutes.

Each minute spent circling over Mumbai Airport exacts a toll on airline fuel reserves and operational efficiency. With aircraft averaging a fuel consumption of 2000kg per hour, circling durations of 40 to 60 minutes translate into significant fuel wastage, ranging from 1.7 to 2.5 kilolitres of jet fuel. These soaring fuel costs, estimated at approximately ₹1.8 to 2.6 lakh, ultimately burden consumers and undermine airport efficiency, leading to delays and dissatisfaction among passengers and airlines.

In response to escalating airspace congestion, the Airport Authority of India conducted a thorough analysis, revealing disparities in air traffic management during peak and off-peak hours. Despite Mumbai Airport operating at full capacity, persistent congestion persisted due to excessive slot distribution, non-adherence to allocated slots by airlines, and unrestricted non-scheduled operations.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation said it intervened by issuing directives to alleviate congestion. Notice to Air Men (NOTAMs) issued on January 2, 2024, imposed restrictions on air traffic movements (ATM) during High Intensity Runway Operations (HIRO) periods, reducing hourly ATMs from 46 to 44 and 44 to 42 during non-HIRO periods. Furthermore, restrictions were placed on general aviation aircraft operations during HIRO periods, aiming to enhance airspace safety and operational efficiency.

“While these measures underscore the government's commitment to passenger satisfaction and operational efficiency, the onus lies on Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to ensure compliance and collaboration among airlines. Striking a delicate balance between airport operators and airlines, the government endeavours to foster a seamless travel experience while addressing the challenges posed by burgeoning air traffic at Mumbai Airport, civil aviation said in the release published on PIB.