- Surface issues: The city airport’s main runway was closed till 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 8th Oct 2017
- Officials suspect rain damage; 122 arrivals, 242 departures delayed, 6 flights cancelled
Flight operations at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai were hit for four hours in the morning on Sunday, 8th Oct 2017, after a pothole was found to have developed overnight on the main runway. Aircraft were restricted to the secondary runway, leading to delays of 30 minutes and one hour in arrivals and departures respectively.
This is the second time in a little over a month that the airport has been brought to a standstill, after an inbound SpiceJet flight from Varanasi skidded off the main runway and mired itself in wet soil for over 20 hours. Though the secondary runway had been in use, flight were being delayed well after it was reopened.
Airport sources said the pothole was discovered during routine checks, and repair work was immediately initiated.
“The secondary runway was in use while repairs were being carried out on the main runway, beginning at 6.30 a.m. and ending at 10.30 a.m.,” a senior Air Traffic Control (ATC) official said. In a communication to passengers, Jet Airways said, “Air traffic congestion in Mumbai consequent to main runway closure in the morning. Departure delays of up to 50 minutes expected till 8 p.m.”
A Mumbai International Airport Ltd. (MIAL) spokesperson said there was a single pothole on the taxiway, which was filled in within 30 minutes using a quick-fixing agent. The spokesperson said operations were not halted at any point.
Rain to blame: ATC
ATC officials attributed the pothole, reportedly located between taxiways N1 and N3, to rainfall over the past two days.
Airline and airport monitoring said 122 arrivals and 242 departures were delayed on Sunday, while six flights were cancelled due to the situation on the runway in the morning.
Aviation expert Capt. Mohan Ranganathan said the pothole indicated that the quality of workmanship while laying the runway was poor, and raised doubts on the airport meeting international standards. “The location of the pothole is in an area where aircraft are trying to exit the runway as quickly as possible. The surface quality should be good to prevent such instances.”