Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is the busiest single-runway airport in the world and above all, it broke its own record of handling 980 departures and arrivals in 24 hours on 20th January.

A spokesperson from Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd said, “Before this, on December 6, the airport had landed 974 flights.” Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the second largest airport in India which is breaking its record months after months. Though, UK’s second largest airport which is Gatwick airport and it is the world’s efficient single-runway airport.

As per the statistics maintained from the UK’s Airport Coordination Ltd, the Gatwick single runway airport declared that they handled 870 departure and arrival per day in summer 2018. Gatwick handle flights in the time span of 19 hours; that is; from 5 am till midnight due to the night time restrictions since 1971. Mumbai, on the other hand handles flights for 24 hours a day.

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Gatwick single runway has the highest capacity of handling 55 flight movements (arrival and departure of flights) in an hour whereas Mumbai till date has touched the peak of 52 flight movements in an hour. Though, this number is rarely touched by Mumbai. Gatwick single runway handle 55 air traffic movements frequently in its peak time ;that is; 6 am to 7:50 pm, 10 am to 1:50 pm and 3 pm to 7:50 pm. Chatrapati Shivaji Airport handles 48 air traffic movements in its peak time on an average.

A senior air traffic controller from Mumbai said, “The most important difference between Gatwick and Mumbai is the environment the two airports are set in.” He further said, “Mumbai airport functions in a space-starved, infrastructure-constrained environment, unlike any other. More flights can’t be added onto Mumbai’s single runway without a holistic approach that takes into accounts the ground realties, India’s regulatory framework, human factors etc.”

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The actual fact is that both the airports, namely Chatrapati Shivaji Airport and the Gatwick Airport have distinct difference. London has four airports namely Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Among which Heathrow is the largest and Gatwick is second largest. Heathrow has two runways which operate simultaneously and the other airports have single runway. Therefore, London has a total of five runways for the flights. On the other side, Mumbai just have a single airport with a single runway (Airport at Juhu cannot handle flights that of airline).

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The infrastructure of the runway for Mumbai-bound flights is available in a set of cross runways. In which there is a main runway and the other which is smaller secondary runway. At a time, only one among the two is operational. The senior air traffic controller from Mumbai said, “If the main runway has to be shut because of emergency, airport operations are crippled.” He also added, “Last September, when a Spice Jet aircraft overshot the main runway forcing its closure, most of the wide-bodied aircraft operating long haul international flights were forced to divert to Hyderabad and Bangalore, where a dearth of aircraft parking boys posted a problem.”


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