Passengers travelling to and from Mumbai are in for a rough couple of weeks as the Mumbai airport will remain shut for six hours for twenty two days in February and March. With fewer flights operating from one of the busiest airports, airfare is likely to shoot up by 80 per cent to key destinations such as Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. On other routes, airfare is likely to increase by as much as 30%.
According to a report in Business Standard, there will be no movement between 11am and 5pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from February 7 to March 30 due to recarpeting of the intersection of two runways. However, the airport will be operational on March 21, a Thursday, due to the festival of Holi.
No general aviation flights will be allowed between 7am and 7pm, which means that charters and private aircraft owners will also have to reschedule their flights. Although only one runway is used at any given point, the two intersecting runways handle around 950 flights daily, including 30-35 charter and private aircrafts.
A spokesperson for the Mumbai airport said that around 230 flights will be cancelled daily. With 33 flights, Delhi is likely to see the maximum number of cancellations, followed by Goa with 18 flights and Bengaluru with 16 flights.
Most of the international flights have also been rescheduled.
As mentioned in the daily, industry experts believe that while it is too early to predict the kind of impact this closure will have on bookings, fares are likely to be spiked by 15-30 per cent.
Additionally, Jet Airways has reduced the frequency of its flights from Mumbai to destinations such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata, while adding on non-metro routes. This could also increase the fare to metro cities by as much as 80 per cent.
A GoAir spokesperson said that the airline has cancelled 22 flights daily and have fully refunded the passengers. Vistara, too, has recalled 8 flights, fully refunding or accommodating passengers on other flights.
Recarpeting of the intersection area is done to prevent degradation of the runways and to make them longer-lasting. Two layers of asphalt will be laid on the runways to strengthen the surface. The work is done before the monsoon period.
The last recarpeting was done in 2010.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)