In an ambitious move, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to have both the runways at IGI operational simultaneously all day long in the coming months. The authority had recently increased the timing of twin use from 10 to 12 hours daily in wake of severe choking of air traffic and carriers levying a congestion surcharge.
Airlines say that having both runways operational is the only way of tackling the ever-growing traffic till the third airstrip gets ready by next year.
“We are working out details of how the existing manpower of about 190 air traffic controllers (ATCs) could be used to do the job all day long without overburdening them and causing stress. The new recruits are not currently trained to be deployed in different units like control tower, radar, approach and area controls. They are being trained to ensure cross-utilisation. We will talk to the ATC Guild to discuss how this can be achieved in a mutually beneficial way,” said a senior AAI official.
The government is also trying to get the ban on using defence air space relaxed. Twin use of runways when planes have to land from Dwarka side and take off from Jumbo Point area means that a greater separation has to be maintained between aircraft. The reason: A plane can be allowed to take off only after another one has stopped after landing on the other runway due to operational safety reasons.
Air traffic at IGI is constantly growing with new flights being added in the summer schedule. Aviation minister Praful Patel had recently clarified that there was no blanket ban on adding flights but that was to be done only when some free slots are available. As a result, almost all hours are becoming peak hours here. The current daily movement has now crossed the 650-mark and twin usage can allow a maximum of 43 aircraft movements an hour when landing is from Jumbo Point side.
Moreover, with ATF prices and fuel surcharge increasing recently, airlines have become even more touchy about this issue.
“Fuel already comprises nearly half of our operating cost and since all airlines are running into losses, the last thing we want is to waste fuel,” said an airline official.
– Times of India