Airfares could go up as Mumbai airport partially shuts down the main runway

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on September 28, 2019 Published on September 28, 2019

A view of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.   -  BusinessLine

From November 1, the main runway will remain partially shut for five months during peak hours for re-carpeting work.


Are you planning a festive season trip to or from Mumbai? Brace yourselves for flight cancellations, delays and hiked prices say, industry experts. On Friday, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) said that the main runway would remain partially shut for five months during peak hours for re-carpeting work.

Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL), an operating company of CSIA, in a statement had said that the main runway would be only partially available for aircraft operations from November 1, 2019 to March 2020.

After the Delhi airport, CSIA is the second busiest airport in India and handles around 915 flights a day. The work will go on for over eight hours a day. According to a person in the know, since the secondary runway is smaller in width than the main runway, it can handle lesser capacity. The main runway operates 46 flights in an hour, and the secondary runway can handle 36 flights per hour. Hence, approximately 95 flights a day are likely to get rescheduled, diverted or cancelled.

Read also: Partial closure of Mumbai airport could improve yields for airlines

A source had told BusinessLine that the effect would mainly be on domestic flights. However, since the airlines were informed much in advance, the impact would be minimal. A GoAir spokesperson said “GoAir is currently working with Mial on finalising the effective flight schedule for minimising the inconvenience/impact of runway closure on the passengers. The airline currently operates 96 flights daily to/from Mumbai. GoAir may have to cancel a couple of flights owing to the runway closure."

Another airline’s spokesperson on the condition of anonymity said that the partial closure would impact their operations and hike fares on the affected routes.

The good thing according to an industry player is that the recarpeting is scheduled after Diwali and elections which will not impact the travel schedules.

Fare hike fears

According to Cleartrip and Ixigo the reduced capacity will impact the festive season goes on till Jan mainly and thus, hike the prices. "Past closure of runways at high traffic airports like Mumbai and Delhi have pushed last-minute airfares north by 75-80%." - Aloke Bajpai, CO-founder & CEO, ixigo

However, Sharat Dhall, COO of Yatra.com said, "We think there might be a price impact of 25-30 per cent only on routes in and out of Mumbai during the peak travel month of December and early January."

After the news took the internet, a Twitter user, Janadan Pandey tweeted saying “already hell lot of delays arriving and departing from Mumbai. The last time they closed it, they said that for the next 10 years no major repairs are required. We pay for flying…”

According to Balu Ramachandran, Senior VP, Cleartrip, the partial closure of the airport could dampen the domestic air passenger traffic. “The domestic aviation space is already witnessing low single-digit growth rates so far this year after the jet airways crisis and fare increases to Mumbai due to disruptions could put additional strain on the growth prospects of domestic aviation."

Domestic traffic

The recent Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data showed that the domestic air passenger traffic reduced for the third consecutive month in August even though it saw an uptick every year. Indian airlines carried 1.179 crore passengers last month, compared with 1.190 crore the previous month.

Anticipating an impact of the delays and cancellations on the customers, “We have informed our customers that we will anticipate delays and diversions with Mumbai airport’s main runway closed during peak hours,” explained Daniel D’souza,President & Country Head, Leisure at SOTC Travel said.

Thomas Cook India said that the company is proactively reaching out to all its travellers and informing them about the shift. The company has made avenues for alternate assistance keeping the convenience of their customers, they added.


Published on September 28, 2019
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