New world record: Mumbai airport raises own bar with 1,003 flights a day

Mumbai airport, the busiest single-runway airport in the world, broke its own record when it handled 1003 flights on Tuesday. The previous record for highest number of flights in twenty-four hours period was 988 a few months ago, a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson said.

The 1000-plus movement number was breached on Tuesday as thunderstorm previous evening led to a large number of delays and disruptions. These delayed flights landed and took off past midnight on Monday, adding to Tuesday's data.

Though Mumbai has two intersecting runways, only one of them is in operation at a time. The airport's main runway has a declared capacity of 46 movements per hour, and flight schedules and slots are approved on that basis. Flight movements on a given day can be higher because of non-scheduled or charter movements and thus on an average the airport sees 46-48  movements per hour during its peak hours.

London's Gatwick airport, which has the tag of being the most efficient single-runway airport, handles around 55 movements per hour and, unlike Mumbai, does not have round-the-clock operations and is shut from midnight till 5 am.

Due to improved air traffic procedures and construction of rapid exit taxiways, the flight movements in Mumbai have gone past 600 an hour a decade ago. However, the growth has reached a saturation point and there are virtually no free slots. While the overall domestic air traffic growth in the country has been over 20 per cent, Mumbai airport growth has only been around 7.5  per cent. The airport handled 48.5 million passengers in FY 18.

In a report last October, aviation consultancy CAPA said Mumbai airport will saturate at 50-52 million passengers due to airside limitations. 

“Airport has complex and restricted operations due to what is effectively a single-runway system. Productivity from that runway is already high, with Mumbai achieving 46-50 hourly movements, approaching the global best practice level of 55. Hence further efficiency upside is limited,” CAPA had said.

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