Mumbai airport continued to be the most unpunctual among four private-run airports in December with more than 3,00,000 stranded (for more than two hours) travellers, the highest ever.
The data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday showed that 45% flights taking-off and landing in the city airport were delayed. Other metro airports such as Hyderabad (80.01%), Bengaluru (66.58%) and Delhi (63.56%), India’s busiest, did better in the month that saw record-breaking surge in domestic travellers and widespread fog-induced disruptions.
“Mumbai, the cradle of aviation in India, is sadly jostling for space to operate flights. As a result, hardly any airline wants to add flights there,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president with the Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI) — a body formed by air travellers.
While most of these flights were disrupted by fog, experts said that the country aviation infrastructure was severely unprepared for the winter. “December almost recorded a milestone in the number of travellers. But airlines and airports should be prepared to deal with the rush when they lure fliers with discounted tickets,” said a senior executive with an aviation think tank, who did not wish to be named.
Indian skies recorded 9.5 million fliers, up from 7.7 million, in the same period last year, the data showed. Between January and December the country recorded 99.88 million fliers, a spike of 23.18% over the same period last year, it added.
“Use of better landing technology can cut down the scale of disruptions. But the ministry needs to start investing in research and development at the onset,” added Reddy.
Industry experts added that training of CAT IIIB (training for flight operations in low visibility) should be made mandatory. “Airlines have been going slow in making their crew CAT III compliant to skip the training cost. The passengers are paying the price. It is high time the regulator sets strict timelines,” said a former DGCA official.
In December, IndiGo Airlines alone handled more than 1.31lakh travelers, who faced delays exceeding two hour waits ,followed by Air India which catered to 70,645 such fliers, the data added.