Flight operations at Mumbai remained affected on Saturday, as rain hampered the removal of the Turkish Airlines Airbus A340 aircraft, which veered off the main runway at the city airport yesterday. Mumbai airport's main runway had been shut after the incident.
The closure of the main runway, combined with low visibility, led to flight operations being suspended four times on Saturday. Six flights were diverted and arrivals and departures were delayed by over an hour. To add to the woes, a Spicejet Boeing 737 from Bangalore made an emergency landing on Saturday afternoon.
Continuing rain had made the task of removing the aircraft difficult. According to Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) sources, the task was expected to be completed late Saturday evening. Throughout Saturday, labourers were engaged in constructing a temporary pavement to enable the towing of the aircraft. However, that too, was adversely affected.
MIAL spokesperson Anindita Sinha said, "Around 200 manual labourers have been deputed, along with 34 engineers from Larsen & Toubro, MIAL and Turkish Airlines. MIAL's airside operations team and fire crew, with crash tenders and Forward Command Posts, are posted 24x7 to carry out the recovery work smoothly. Since Friday, 50 truckloads of solid material and 20 truckloads of milling material are being used to create a temporary hard pavement for the aircraft to be backtracked and moved to the designated site. Air India would recover the disabled aircraft once the solid pavement is ready. More than 100 truckloads of soil had to be excavated to clear off the slushy ground around the aircraft. The cargo in the aircraft also had to be offloaded, leading to constructing a 20/40 feet temporary road for the MDL (main deck loader) machine to take the cargo out.''
Investigations into the cause of incident are underway. A team of Turkish Civil Aviation Authority officials are expected to arrive in Mumbai soon. According to preliminary information, the pilot may have made a wrong judgement while vacating the runway.