Mumbai Airport needs a balancing act – for passengers benefit

The suspension of Jet Airways threw up some interesting challenges in Indian aviation. While the suspension led to capacity crisis, increasing fares and a lot more on the commercial side, over a period of time I was keenly observing how airports handle the capacity at Terminals. Even before I joined aviation, with my masters in management in operations, I had a keen eye over capacity at terminals and this scenario has been a great case study for any student like me who would want to use operations and operations research to reduce bottle necks, ensure efficiency and optimum utilization of finite space.

The last week looked like a season of terminal changes. Spicejet announced moving its entire operations to Terminal 2 at Mumbai and checking-out of T2 at Delhi and moving flights to T3-Delhi. While Delhi is a case of being in the middle of a long makeover and capacity addition which has already led to splitting operations for airlines, Mumbai is a different case altogether.

The gridlocked airport with acres of land being encroached leaving little land available for expansion has seen the design of its iconic Terminal 2 being modified mid-way due to lack of promised land. This obviously also meant a reduction in number of bays that could have been available.

On twitter, whatsapp and in person – I have had people ask about which flight from which terminal and which airline in which terminal and it has been confusing for all. I have had friends look at me in disbelief that I have started saying IndiGo and Spicejet have few flights from T2 and then comes the reply – “But all along you have said, international and full service in T2 and all LCC in T1”!

Data Analysis

Pulling out data from the airport’s website shows that the airport had almost equal number of domestic departures from T1 and T2 when Jet Airways had full fledged operations. The airline had 108 departures on domestic sectors per day, the highest for any airline in Mumbai. With the biggest pie gone, the airport gave out slots to airlines in T2 – since additional 108 cannot be accommodated in T1. Vistara and Air India had a natural advantage, since they were already operating at T2. While Air India doesn’t seem to have added flights, Vistara made the most of whatever was on platter and has tripled its operations at Mumbai, going by the airline’s schedule page, yet that is closer to 40 flights a day giving room for other airlines to expand.

The below chart explains the change from pre-jet days and post-jet days. The tail note has details of the data analysis part

Departures per day.PNG

What next?

The confusion is over for passengers of Spicejet – all flights (Domestic + International) from Terminal 2. Confusion also over for passengers of Go Air – all domestic flights from Terminal 1, while International from Terminal 2.

Confusion would continue for passengers of IndiGo with majority domestic flights from T1 and a few from T2. From the passenger perspective, had it been sector wise like at Delhi, it would have been easier but at Mumbai you see most of the flights to Bengaluru by IndiGo from T1 while one odd flight from T2 – increasing the confusion!

Personally, I have believed that in a country where people still confuse between GoAir and IndiGo – simplified operations will help improve passenger experience.A little number crunching shows that IndiGo could push itself to shift to Terminal 1. Can MIAL help IndiGo do it? Will IndiGo push enough to move? We don’t know!

Below tables show the airline and terminal wise departures for domestic flights.

IndiGo Movement proposal.PNG

But there are benefits in having all domestic operations at one terminal for IndiGo – it definitely leads to better turnarounds, ability to swap planes, reduction in need for ground equipment and work force and better control over operations.

It also helps connect more passengers and them being a happy lot as compared to a realization post landing that their next flight is from a different terminal and there is no inter terminal transfer option available.

Over to IndiGo and MIAL and all the other stakeholders to take up the idea!

Data Analysis

As a policy NetworkThoughts publishes posts based on data and information in public domain. The data has come from multiple sources. For the domestic departures, we have considered the data released by Mumbai Airport for June’18 – a fair weather month. The last full schedule which Jet Airways had was December’18 but the month had seen cancellations across airlines due to weather disruptions.
The data for post Jet Airways operations comes from June’19 since the airport is yet to declare data for July’19. The numbers understandably are on a lower side since Vistara and Spicejet have added flights in July. The same can be cross checked with the airline schedule and from flightradar24. However, for lack of resources and time, we have relied on the published data rather than extrapolating and introducing assumptions.