Monday, September 25, 2017

Pune mostly off alternative airport list for Mumbai flights

Pune: Ratul Vardhan, who was flying to Mumbai from Delhi last week, had a harrowing time after his flight was diverted to Ahmedabad due to the torrential rain in the country's financial capital.
"I understand that there was heavy rain in Mumbai and more than 100 flights were cancelled after an aircraft skidded off the runway at the airprot there. However, I fail to understand why our flight was diverted to Ahmedabad and not Pune. I lost almost an entire day. Pune would have been very close to Mumbai," Vardhan told TOI.
Last week, many Mumbai-bound flights were diverted last week to other cities, excluding Pune, as the runway was closed. Experts blame the limited infrastructure of the Pune airport as one among the main reasons for the city airport not being in the list of alternative destinations.
"The Pune airport has less space but, on the contrary, sees many flight movements. The scarcity of space in the form of aircraft parking bays doesn't quite allow the flights to be diverted to the city . The bays are mostly occupied with the scheduled flights either taking off or disembarking passengers. A scheduled flight cannot be delayed. If the diverted flights have to land in Pune, the airport needs more space and better facilities," aviation expert and analyst Dhairyashil Vandekar said.
Airlines on the other hand cite multiple reasons for the city not being in the list of the alternative airports for Mumbai-bound flights. "Infrastructure is an issue at the airport and we have always talked about it. Besides, Pune is primarily a defence airport. There are some restrictions when it comes to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the runway as they are managed by the Indian Air Force and not the Airports Authority of India (AAI). As a result, most airlines choose alternatives other than Pune," a senior official with a private airline told TOI requesting anonymity.
25/09/17 Joy Sengupta/Times of India