Mumbai now has the world’s busiest single runway airport

Catering a flight every 65 seconds


May 20, 2017

/ By / New Delhi

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With its operations of 837 flights in a day or one every 65 seconds on an average, the airport at Mumbai is now the world’s busiest amongst the single-runway facilities.

With one flight every 65 seconds to and from the financial capital of India, the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai has become the world’s busiest single-runway airport. Operating 837 flights a day in fiscal 2017, the GVK conglomerate-run airport has left behind London’s Gatwick, which operates 757 flights a day on its single-runway.

The airport has also ruled out the London airport in terms of handling number of passengers with 45.2 million people flying in and out in fiscal 2017 as opposed to the Gatwick’s 44 million. Of the total number of passengers that flew at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, 12.4 million were international travellers.

The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) manages two arrivals every 130 seconds and one departure in between these two arrivals. That means the land-starved airport handles a whopping 837 flight movements a day, which on an average is 80 flights more than Gatwick handling 757 movements in a day, a spokesperson said to Indian press. There are days when the number crosses even 900 movements a day, she added.



A view of the slums in the neighbourhood of the airport

The achievement comes despite the many challenges that the neighbourhood of the airport poses.  Mumbai is home to one of Asia’s biggest slums and many small illegal squatters, some of them even occupy nearly one-third of the airport land. Also as of now, the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the only operating airport in the city. Another one at Navi Mumbai is planned but is yet to come up.




It’s also noteworthy that no other large city in the world is served by a lone airport that has a single operational runway.

The airport continues to function despite odds including its operations from its secondary runway when the main single runway is shut for repairs. Nevertheless, it has been handling all the traffic with efficiency.

However, it is yet to catch up with the airport at Delhi that handles the maximum number of passengers for the country with 57.7 million passengers or 21.6 pc of the total air traffic in fiscal 2017 in contrast to Mumbai’s 45.2 million passengers or 18.6 pc.

The GVK group has been handling the ever increasing traffic at the Mumbai airport. When it took over the operations of the airport in fiscal 2006, it handled just 18 million passengers. In fiscal 2017, the city airport logged an 8 pc growth in volume over fiscal 2016.

The airport currently has an extensive network that takes passengers to over 95 domestic and international destinations.

The airport has also grown in terms of cargo shipment from 5,32,000 tonne in fiscal 2008 to 78,29,000 tonne in fiscal 2017. Recently it also welcomed two Airbus A350-900 that resulted in it becoming the only airport in the country to handle daily operations of two of the world’s most advanced premium passenger aircraft, the spokesperson said.

“To augment operational efficiency, we are expediting a host of projects and initiatives including constructing rapid exit taxiways, widening runways and taxiways and improving airspace management, helping us seamlessly accommodate an increasing traffic,” she said.

“Currently, work is on to connect the taxiway to runway 27 which can provide the much-required additional holding area for aircraft ready to take off on the main runway,” the spokesperson added.



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