Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai will get a new Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, to start operations from June next year.
The International Air Transporters’ Association, an association of various global airlines, has said the runway there was deficient in safety because the ATC tower came in the way of the flight path. As a result many such as Singapore International Airlines, Saudi Airways, Qantas and Continental do not use this runway.
“We are building a new ATC tower and that will be complete by December this year. Shifting of all the equipment from the existing terminal will take another six months and the new ATC will be running by June next year,” said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) executive, who did not want to be identified.
MIAL is a consortium led by Hyderabad-based GVK Industries selected to operate and develop the Mumbai airport. GVK owns 50.5 per cent stake, followed with 26 per cent by Airports Authority of India, 13.5 per cent by BSDM and ACSA Global with 10 per cent.
The Mumbai airport has two runways intersecting. The primary one is being re-carpetted and is closed during the day. The secondary runway is used instead. It is this one which has an ATC tower in its flight path.
“Anexure XIV of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organsiation) norms term such runways, with an ATC in its flight path, not fit for landing,” said the executive of an airline which does not use the runway. He said the height of the 73-metre-high tower needed reducing to 47 metres.
MIAl, however, says only a few airlines have a problem and the others use the runway.
“According to ICAO norms, any ATC tower 150 metres away from the centre of the runway is considered safe. And, the tower is very far from the centre,” said an MIAL executive.
Currently, Mumbai airport caters to 25 million passengers a year and is expected to exhaust its capacity of 40 million passengers by 2013.
In 2008, for the second year in a row, it was adjudged the world’s most-delayed airport in terms of arrivals, with only 49.95 per cent of these on time. About 58 per cent of its late arrivals in 2008 were delayed by 30 minutes or more.
To ease congestion, a new airport is also being planned. The proposed Navi Mumbai International airport is to be built through public-private partnership and recently got environment clearance.