The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (IATA: AMD) at Ahmedabad will be shut for 9 hours each day from January 03, 2022, to May 31, 2022 for nine hours daily, says a new NOTAM (Notice to Airmen). The airport had recently commissioned additional bays.
The airport had earlier issued a NOTAM for closure from November 10, 2021. The NOTAM was cancelled and a new one was issued. The airport seems to have worked out an alternative plan to complete the work in shorter duration and ensure that the peak period of November and December does not see closure.
The closure window is from 0900hrs local time to 1800hrs local time on all days except Sunday. Six days which are National Holidays have also been exempted from the closure hours.
The NOTAM states that it’s sole runway 05/23 will not be available for operations due to major rehabilitation work being undertaken. The airport will not be available as an alternate or for emergency landing during this time.
A) VAAH B) 2201030330 C) 2205311230 D) DLY 0330-1230 EXC SUN AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS 14JAN22 26JAN22 01MAR22 19MAR22 15APR22 03MAY22 E) RWY 05/23 NOT AVBL FOR LDG/TKOF DUE MAJOR REHABILITATION WORK. AD NOT AVBL AS ALTN AND FOR EMERG LDG
Interestingly, the airport is closed every Sunday from 1100hrs to 1500hrs for runway repairs. This NOTAM which was to end in October has been extended until January 02, 2022.
Ahmedabad, located in the western state of Gujarat, is a major non-metro and is connected to multiple cities across the country and few worldwide. The airport is now managed by Adani Airports and was part of the six airports which the group won as part of privatization process, pre-COVID.
Ahmedabad was the seventh busiest domestic airport in July 2021. It handled 2146047 passengers in FY 2018-19 and 9026421 domestic passengers in the same financial year, data released by AAI shows. Ahmedabad is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Goa, Kandla, Nashik, Bhopal Indore, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Guwahati, Jammu, Jaipur, Udaipur, Nagpur, Ajmer, Belgaum amongst others.
The airport has its own challenges, with an underutilized international terminal and apron along with a congested domestic terminal and apron. To add to this, a full length parallel taxiway is missing with little or no scope to have one. This increases the Runway Occupancy Time for aircraft and limits movements per hour.
Until recently, Ahmedabad was the only airport which saw all scheduled carriers operate. This has since changed as flyBig moved its sole aircraft to Guwahati from Indore.
Airport repairs and rehabilitation is a routine process and while it is hardly noticed at smaller airports where there are limited movements, the larger ones make one sit and take notice. Mumbai has seen runway repairs leading to closure of operations for specific days / hours in the past. Currently, Pune airport is undergoing runway repairs which has kept the airport operating only 12-hours each day.
Impact on Airlines and Passengers
The closure is for a long period of time. While the capacity will be cut overall, it could mean expensive flights for passengers. Neighboring Vadodara may see flight addition as well, as was the case about a decade ago when Ahmedabad airport had undertaken a similar exercise.
Airlines have significant capacity deployment at Ahmedabad and the closure spanning across two scheduling seasons, planning alternative deployment will be a challenge – more so if the capacity caps continue.
Since the closure period includes the holiday season of December and April, fares could shoot up during the period !
While the capacity goes down, it could open new connections for the city. With the demand which the city generates, airlines will shift to red eye flights to cater to this demand along with shifting some capacity to Vadodara – just two hours by road from Ahmedabad.
Airlines are made aware of this much earlier than the official NOTAM and the teams are prepared with alternate plans for such eventualities.
If you are a passenger, planning to book your flights To/From Ahmedabad during this period, please keep a watch on the timings. Airlines may have not adjusted their flight timings based on NOTAM, just yet and if you happen to book a flight in closure hours – expect date and time changes or cancellations.