Rising incomes and cheaper fares offered by budget carriers are fueling air travel in India, an aviation market set to be the third biggest behind China and the U.S. In signs traffic is surging, Mumbai on Friday handled 969 flights in a 24-hour period, a world record for an airport that operates only one runway at any given point of time, the Times of India reported Sunday, citing an official at the Mumbai International Airport Ltd. The aim is to reach 1,000 aircraft movements, the official told the newspaper. Indian carriers flew about 100 million domestic passengers last year, and the International Air Transport Association estimates the market will add about 337 million more in the next two decades. About 97 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people have never been on an airplane, according to low-cost airline SpiceJet Ltd., indicating the potential for growth in traffic.
Mumbai’s airport, which has two runways, can operate only one at a time because they criss-cross each other, with lack of land ruling out the construction of one more. As a result, it is technically a single-runway facility. The surge in traffic on Friday was also aided by private and charter aircraft, the newspaper said.