The Ministry of Civil Aviation has implemented a new system to curb congestion at the Mumbai airport. The system involves automatically limiting slot allocations for aircraft. The restrictions cap flights at 42 per hour during normal hours and 44 during high-intensity hours, said Ministry sources.

Also read: Charter flight operators upset as Mumbai airport, AAI impose more curbs

“We have put a system in place where no approval will be given to the airport operator to allow airlines to fly beyond 42 and 44 flights during the summer and winter schedules. Mumbai airport has a cross runway (one runway overlapping the other), due to which, it can only take 44 flights during high intensity hours and 42 flights in non high intensity hours. But the airport had 47 and 48 flights respectively leading to congestion,” an official told businessline.

“Over the past four weeks, we noticed 57 per cent of the flights were coming before time, now that number is down to 14-15 per cent. Some 35 per cent of the flights were circling (before landing). Now it is down to 3 per cent at the Mumbai airport,” the official said. Now, we are conducting an assessment every month, this will ease the congestion at the airport,” the official added.

An analysis by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) revealed that excessive slot allocations and poor adherence contributed significantly to congestion.

In response to complaints, the Civil Aviation Ministry had directed Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) and AAI to restrict non-scheduled flights (chartered flights etc.) during peak hours (8-11 am, 5 pm, 8 pm, 9:15 pm, and 11:15 pm).

Comparing air traffic trends between November 11 - December 10, 2023, and February 16 - 24, 2024, the Ministry claimed positive results from its initiatives. During the latter period, out of 4,337 arrivals, there were no delays exceeding a certain threshold.

In contrast, the November 11-December 10, 2023 period witnessed 14,476 arrivals, with 1,641 aircraft delayed for over an hour. Delays of 30-60 minutes affected 2,141 planes, 15-30 minutes impacted 2,083 aircraft, and 0-15 minutes affected 3,632 planes. Additionally, 570 aircraft arrived ahead of schedule, causing congestion and delays for other flights.

Also read: Punctuality at Mumbai airport has become better: Civil Aviation Ministry

The Ministry had said the need for airlines to adhere to allotted slots, as deviations have a cascading effect on the entire schedule. The situation is being closely monitored, with ongoing efforts to improve air traffic management at Mumbai airport.