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MUMBAI: A few weeks ago, Mumbai airport quietly overtook London's Gatwick to become the world's busiest airport that operates with a single runway.
For the airport operator and Mumbai air traffic control, it's an achievement. They now handle one of the most difficult jobs in the world, as every 65 seconds an aircraft either takes off from or touches down at the Mumbai airport.
For the government, though, it would be a matter of shame as no other major city in the world is serviced by a lone airport that has a single operational runway. The main airports of most major cities such as Delhi, Dubai, Singapore, Sydney, London and New York handle aircraft with at least two parallel runways in use.
All passenger and cargo aircraft operate from a single runway — either the main runway (0927) or, when it's shut for repairs, the secondary one



(1432).
In the financial year ending March 2017, Mumbai airport handled 45.2 million passengers, beating Gatwick's 44 million. "Currently, Mumbai airport handles 837 arrivals or take-offs in a day — an average of 80 flights more than Gatwick, which handles 757 movements in a day," said an airport official. A senior air traffic controller, while requesting anonymity, said, "We position two arrivals every 130 seconds and one departure in between these two arrivals. So there is one take-off or touch-down every 65 seconds from the main runway of Mumbai airport."
What makes the job tough is when flight operations have to be moved to the less efficient secondary runway. For instance, between February and April 2017, from 9am to 5pm, flight operations were moved to the secondary runway as the main one was taken up for maintenance work.

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