More than 180 flights at the Mumbai airport had to be cancelled in the past 24 hours due to heavy rainfall in the city and after a SpiceJet aircraft skidded off the runway and got stuck in mud, shutting down the main runway.
The Boeing 737, which skidded off the runway yesterday, was towed away to the paved area late this evening with the help of a team of engineers from national carrier Air India and Mumbai International Airport Ltd, an airport spokesperson said.
Efforts to remove the aircraft had been underway for nearly 24 hours.According to airport sources, NOTAM (notice to airmen) has been extended till 6 am tomorrow, meaning flights will operate from the secondary runway which has limited aircraft handling capacity.
An airport source said 183 flights had to be cancelled since last night. “Dozens have been diverted to nearby airports due to the prolonged closure of the main runway.”
A statement from the Mumbai airport said 63 flights of Jet Airways, eight of IndiGo, two of SpiceJet and one of GoAir were among those that had to be cancelled till 5 pm on Wednesday.
As many as 56 flights were diverted to nearby airports.
Earlier today, the airport operator said incessant rains hindered their efforts to remove the aircraft stuck in mud.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha tweeted, “#AI team assisting #RescueOperation in removal of #SpiceJet acft from #BOM runway, the only airline in India to offer this type of facility.”
The SpiceJet plane was carrying 183 passengers and skidded off the runway during landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at around 10 pm on Tuesday.
Following the incident, the airport authorities moved the operations to the secondary runway.
Mumbai airport, the second busiest in India, has two crossing runways - 09/27 (the main)and 14/32 (the secondary runway).
While the primary runway can handle up to 48 arrivals and departures per hour, the secondary runway has a capacity of 35 movements per hour. Overall, there are 930 flight arrivals and departures at the Mumbai airport every day.
Several domestic airlines decided to waive off airfare penalties for passengers travelling to or from Mumbai for a defined period period after the main runway was closed.
Torrential rains battered Mumbai and its suburbs for the second day on Wednesday, causing massive disruption in flight operations, delaying suburban train services and forcing a large number of people to stay indoors.