Mumbai airport served a record number of take-offs and landings

Anastasia Dagaeva
November 27, 2017

Creating a new world record for single-runway operations, Mumbai airport just hit the impressive mark of 969 take-offs and landings in 24 hours last Friday. It broke its own record of 935, according to the Time of India

Mega cities such as New York, London, Tokyo and Delhi have airports with two or more runways that operate simultaneously. Though Mumbai has two runways, they are crossing each other, so only one runway is used at a time. Technically, due to a safety reasons, this puts Mumbai in the single-runway airport category.

Mumbai airport digests over 900 commercial airline flights per day. The record high air traffic movement (take-offs and landings) happen on days when the number of unscheduled flights-charter aircraft, private aircraft-go up, like it did on 24 November. These flights are normally banned during the morning and evening peak hours, so when the load goes up during non-peak hours, new records are set. "We hope to cross 1,000 aircraft movements per day soon,'' said a spokesperson of Mumbai International Airport (MIAL).

Mumbai's demand for air travel coupled with land-shortage (which means it will never have a parallel runways) has forced the private airport operator, the government-run air traffic control and airline pilots to squeeze out every second worth of efficiency from the 12,008 feet long main runway 27. The runway has a declared capacity to handle 46 take-offs and departure in an hour. Twice on Friday-once in the morning and once in the evening-the runway handled 50 movements in one hour.

Despite the record, MIAL is not yet the world’s busiest airport chart-listed. The top three are Atlanta, Beijing and Dubai having handled 104 million, 94 million and 84 million respectively, in 2016. Mumbai’s overall passenger traffic was 45 million people. It doesn’t lead the take-offs and landing chart either. US airports traditionally dominate this criterion.

Nevertheless, rising incomes and cheaper fares offered by budget carriers are pushing air travel in India, an aviation market set to be the third biggest behind China and the US Indian airlines flew about 100 million domestic passengers last year, and the International Air Transport Association estimates the market will add about 337 million more in the next two decades. About 97% of India’s 1.3 billion people have never been on an airplane, according to low-cost airline SpiceJet, indicating the potential for growth in traffic both. The optimistic scenario applies for both regional and long-range destinations due to the large Indian community around the world.

Picture: the Time of India