More flights to Mumbai-Delhi begin soon

Air passengers flying from Mumbai to Delhi may soon have a wider variety of flights to choose from. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is set to open a new flight path in the country’s busiest air corridor from December. This move will not only increase the capacity for passengers by several thousand, it may also result in a drop in fares.The AAI recently issued a notice of airmen (NOTAM) to inform pilots of the new flight path, demarcated at a distance of 29,000 feet and above from the existing route. Planes on this route could travel at a higher speed, since air traffic controllers would reduce the distance between two flights from 80 nautical miles to 50 nautical miles on the flight path, according to a report by Soubhik Mitra in Hindustan Times.

The aim is to accommodate more flights on this route. We want to increase the daily flight movement from 120 to 150,said a senior ATC official, requesting anonymity. If the experiment works well, a similar model will be implemented for other busy routes connecting metro cities to Mumbai, he added. Aviation experts said that the move could result in more Mumbai-Delhi flights in the summer schedule, starting from March 2012. If 30-odd flights are added on the route, it means an increase of about 6,000 passenger seats. As a result, air fares are likely to drop, said an expert with an aviation consultancy firm, requesting anonymity.

The ATC will switch back to the existing flight path in case of poor weather or a technical snag to the aircraft. The AAI is awaiting a final clearance on the radio communication system between Jaipur and Delhi before it opens the new route. The ATC is also in the final stages of reducing the distance between flights on the landing queue at the city airport, to increase the number of flights handled by Mumbai.

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