Winter is coming and two biggest airports in the country – Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport – are gearing up to close their runways for maintenance and repair works. Due to this, flight schedules are likely to be impacted during this winter season. The Delhi airport will close one of its three runways for preventive repairs for a period of 13 days, starting from 15 November, while on the other hand, the Mumbai airport will have both its runways closed for a duration of six hours a day on 23 October and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 7 February and 30 March. This move is likely to impact around 100 flights a day at Delhi airport and around 276 flights a day at Mumbai airport, various news reports suggest.
According to a DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited) spokesperson, quoted in an IE report, the airport authority is planning the closure of Runway 27/09 in order to carry out preventive repairs. The runway closure will lower the capacity of Delhi airport by 50 arrivals and 50 departures per day in this 13-days duration. The spokesperson added that the works are necessary for safe aircraft operations and in order to avoid sudden disruptions that cause greater impact due to the time required for planning the logistics.
A Mumbai airport spokesperson said that the maintenance work will be undertaken at the intersection of the two runways rendering both the strips inoperable. The airlines have been encouraged to bring in wide-body aircraft in order to accommodate the passenger traffic during operable hours, he added. Out of all the Indian carriers, only Jet Airways and Air India operate wide-body passenger aircraft. To accommodate with the capacity crunch, the airlines said that they would reschedule, cancel or combine certain flights together.
An Air India source was quoted in the report saying that during the inoperable hours at Mumbai airport, the airline has rescheduled its international flights while at Delhi airport, none of its international flights are being affected. At Mumbai airport, 32 flights under domestic operations, including departures and arrivals will be affected on 23 October and nearly 700 flights will be affected during February-March. In the national capital, Air India’s around 200 flights will be affected during the 13-day runway closure. A SpiceJet spokesperson informed that their 15 flights will be affected during the closure period, however, it is yet to be decided whether the flights will be cancelled or rescheduled. The low-cost airline’s 20 flights will be affected in Mumbai.