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30 flights grounded daily as Mumbai airport struggles with congestion


Indian airlines are cancelling 30 flights per day until March 30, following a directive from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to the Mumbai airport aimed at alleviating runway congestion. Government officials note that this accounts for approximately 3% of the daily flights handled by the Mumbai airport, which manages 1000 movements a day. Even with these cancellations, the airport is expected to operate at full capacity. Akasa Air has announced the cancellation of 90 Mumbai flights until the end of the next month. SpiceJet has confirmed compliance with the government’s directive without specifying the number of canceled flights. A senior executive from a major Indian carrier mentioned ongoing discussions with Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) regarding potentially canceling hundreds of flights, though the exact number is yet to be finalised.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has instructed Adani Group-operated Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to reduce flights due to runway congestion, impacting airlines’ punctuality. The ministry attributes the persistent congestion to factors such as excessive slot distribution with limited time margins by the airport operator, airlines’ non-adherence to slots, and non-scheduled operations during peak hours. MIAL, responsible for slot management, should have proactively regulated air traffic movements, but the Ministry of Civil Aviation had to intervene due to the lack of such measures. Akasa Air and SpiceJet operate approximately 54 and 34 flights per day, respectively, to and from Mumbai airport, while larger airlines like IndiGo and Air India handle around 370 and 163 daily flights to and from the same airport.

MIAL, Air India, AIX Connect, Vistara, and IndiGo did not respond to requests for statements on the matter, as reported by the newspaper.

A spokesperson from Akasa Air acknowledged that the airline’s flight operations to and from Mumbai would be affected due to the implementation of guidelines aimed at reducing runway congestion. The spokesperson stated, “In light of this impact, we find it necessary to rationalise our network, leading to the cancellation of flights QP 1374 (Mumbai to Bengaluru) & QP 1362 (Bengaluru to Mumbai) between February 15 to March 30, 2024.” These two daily services result in the cancellation of 90 flights by Akasa during this period.

The spokesperson further mentioned proactive communication with affected passengers, offering options for rebooking at no additional cost or obtaining a full refund. Passengers are allowed to rebook for any date until April 15, 2024. Akasa Care Agents are actively assisting passengers to minimize inconvenience, and the airport services team is prepared to assist passengers on the ground as needed.

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