The struggle of airlines to add better OTP to flight delays at the airport of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, finds ATC research
NEW DELHI: India’s three busiest airports — Delhi, Mumbai and
Bangalore — are notorious for flight delays. While a crippling
infra crunch at these hubs is responsible for you not taking off or
landing here on time on most occasions, a study by air traffic
control (ATC) has found airlines’ scramble for better on time
record by questionable means is adding to the problem of delays
ATC carried out a study at these three airports last year between September 24 and November 30 which focussed on studying whether flights headed to these places as per schedule time from their origin airports. And what percentage of flights actually reach these airports at their slotted hour.
The study, covering 46,378 flights and accessed by TOI, found 2,569 flights or 5.5% left before their schedule departure time from over 60 origin airports for these three choked hubs. And as many as 11,249, or almost a quarter, reached these three airports more than 15 minutes before their schedule departure time.
This meant these flights reached the choked Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore airports at a slot which was not theirs, thereby affecting the flight which was supposed to be there at that hour. Consequentially, the flight supposed to be there at that time needed to either hover in air to land or on ground till a gate at the terminal is free to receive it.
"The reasons for the findings are: Airlines planning early departures from DGCA approved slot timings; early pushback/departures and incorrect block time from gate to gate. (Block time is the time when an aircraft starts taxiing from the origin airport for take off and then comes to a stop at its parking bay at destination airport)," said a senior official.
Airlines do this to show better OTP to attract passengers. Following the study, a the official said: "It has been decided to ensure airlines operate as per schedule. Flights will not be allowed to take off for choked airports before schedule time except when necessary to do so (like bad weather expected at destination). Airports Authority of India (AAI, parent organisation for ATC) will conduct a year-long study to find correct block times so that DGCA can catch airlines when they file inflated block times."
A senior ATC official said: "I frequently travel for work. Each time a pilot announces we have reached the destination in time but are delayed due to ATC congestion, I check after landing. If the flight reached the destination before its slotted time when it was not supposed to be there and had to therefore wait/hover due to that, I send a note to the pilot who made the announcement. Airlines are welcome to strive for better OTP but not by resorting to wrong tactics and blames us unnecessarily."
Like most airports in India, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore face a crippling shortage of infrastructure. Mumbai’s existing CSIA is operating at capacity and the city desperately needs another airport. Delhi and Bangalore airports have adequate place to grow but are yet to do so.
Delhi and Mumbai handle almost 60% of India’s total aviation traffic. Once a flight gets delayed here, then all the other sectors it has to do that day face consequential delays. "While infra addition will take time, we will take interim measures to reduce delays and add flights in the meanwhile by taking these steps," said the official.