Despite the recent inauguration of the swanky Terminal 2 at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), which is set to ease the air traffic pressure at India’s financial capital, the plans to expand the runway lies in a limbo as almost a sixth of the airport’s 1,982 acres of land is still occupied by slums.
The T2, to be operational from February 12, can handle 40 million passengers a year against about 30m passengers handled by the airport in FY 13. However, it is constrained on the airside due to cross-runways and inadequate apron area and taxiways.
The T2, available only for international flights initially, would integrate full-service domestic flights by mid-2015. But, the shifting of domestic traffic to the terminal depends on the clearance of slums. With the slum removal project stuck in legal tussles, the dream of an integrated terminal and a longer runway could well be delayed.
“It is expected that CSIA may be able to stretch its capacity to handle around 45 mppa (million passengers per annum) against the current traffic of 30 mppa. Assuming that the annual traffic grows by an average of 3 mppa, it can handle additional requirements for the next four-five years. But, then that’s all the time we have”, said Amber Dubey, India-based partner and head-aerospace and defence at KPMG. “Since the bulk of the traffic is concentrated around peak hours, we may see increasing cases of airspace and land congestion. This may lead to flight delays and wastage of fuel by aircraft hovering in the air, waiting for landing clearance.”
Air traffic in India is set to hit 450m by 2020, comprising 360m domestic and 90m international passengers, according to CAPA. Mumbai and Delhi airports will take up more than 50% of this load.
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) officials are, however, confident that the integration of domestic operations at the T2 is on schedule for mid-2015, though it means freeing about 600 acres.
“The 600 acres (currently occupied) are not just slums, but include other facilities and buildings of the Airport Authority of India and Air India. Also this land includes city side area and not just airside. As per our plan, we will have no problems in integrating it with domestic operations next year,” said a MIAL official.
India’s local airline passengers is set to reach 107.2m by 2016, making it the world’s fourth-largest domestic market, the International Air Transport Association predicts. According to Boeing,