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Decongestion directives showing result in Mumbai: Govt

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NEW DELHI: The Union aviation ministry on Wednesday said its recent directives to cut number of daily flights at Mumbai and airlines being ordered to adhere to slots there has led to an “improvement in the air traffic situation” at the choked Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) from Feb 19 onwards. A flight taking off or landing within 15 minutes of scheduled time of departure or arrival is considered an on time movement.

Data shared by the ministry said a month-long period before the directives were issued saw only 25% of the flights arriving in time at CSMIA. But this number rose to 57% in a week-long period after the directives were in force. Given the fact that Mumbai Airport has severe infra constraints and had given way more slots than it should have, flights not adhering to schedule add to the problem of delayed arrivals and departures.
Citing figure for a month between Nov 11, 2023, and Dec 10 — before government intervention, — the ministry said of the 14,476 arrivals in that period, only 25.1% (3,362) came within 15 minutes of their scheduled time of arrival (STA). About 34% (4,979) came before their

STA

and the remaining 40.5% (5,865) were late anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour.
On the other hand, government data says Feb 16-24 — when the directives were in force — saw 4,337 arrivals of which 2,469 or 57% came within 0-15 minutes of their STA. Before STA fell to 13% (570) and 30% (1,298) were delayed anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

An analysis conducted by Airports Authority of India (AAI) pointed to excessive slot allocation and poor slot adherence as a major contributor to the traffic congestion witnessed, a government statement issued Wednesday said. “On Feb 15, the ministry directed MIAL to reduce their flight operations from 46 to 44 per hour during

HIRO

period and from 44 to 42 aircraft movement per hour during remaining period with provision of two slots for general aviation aircraft. Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) in coordination with airlines has implemented the directions effective since Feb 20. All domestic airline operators were also advised to strictly adhere to the slots allocated by MIAL to avoid air congestion,” the Jyotiraditya Scindia-led aviation ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Scindia

had intervened and got the directives for improving Mumbai on time performance earlier this month.
“Aircraft ahead of schedule lead to congestion and delay other aircraft adhering to the schedule, which in turn will have a cascading effect on the other schedule movements. These movements were also targeted for improvements and airlines asked to adhere to the allotted slots. We are closely monitoring the air traffic situation at Mumbai and are committed to reduce the inconvenience caused to the travelling passenger,” the statement added. Scindia had intervened and got the directives for improving Mumbai on time performance issued on Feb 13.
“Mumbai is one of busiest airports in India, handling a large volume of domestic and international flights including military, non-scheduled and general aviation flights. CSMIA has two intersecting runways which cannot be operated simultaneously resulting in single runway operations with a peak hour declared capacity of 46 aircraft movement (arrival or departure) in an hour, during ‘high intensity runway operations’ (HIRO) and 44 aircraft movement per hour during non-HIRO period,” the ministry statement said.
“During the winter schedule 2023, (CSMIA) has been experiencing frequent congestion leading to aircraft hovering overhead for a significant duration causing inconvenience due to delay passengers, wastage of fuel and environmental pollution. In an effort to address the issue of airspace congestion, the ministry on Jan 2, 2024, directed the airport operator (MIAL) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to mitigate congestion by restricting the movements of non-scheduled flights (general aviation) during the identified peak hours (8-11 am, 5-8 pm and 9.15-11.15 pm).”
On Feb 15, the ministry directed MIAL to reduce their flight operations from 46 to 44 per hour during HIRO period and from 44 to 42 aircraft movement per hour during remaining period with provision of two slots for general aviation aircraft. “Airport operator in coordination with airlines has implemented the directions effective since Feb 20. All domestic airline operators were also advised to strictly adhere to the slots allocated by MIAL to avoid air congestion.

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