Delhi airport, which has enhanced its capacity to handle more flights for the winter schedule starting October 1, will overtake Mumbai as the country's largest airport in terms of aircraft handling capacity.
That is because Mumbai, which has no scope for further expansion, has not allowed any additional aircraft movements this winter schedule allowing only 32 flight movements per peak hour.
However, Delhi has increased the number of flights which it can handle during per peak hour from 40 during the summer schedule to 55 during the winter schedule.
This has been possible after the third runway in the city was pressed into service a couple of weeks ago.
Delhi airport has been trailing Mumbai airport, currently the busiest in the country. While Delhi airport handled around 230 daily flights (departures) in the summer schedule, Mumbai handled 330 flights per day.
With the current capacity addition, the city airport will be able to handle around 340 daily flights immediately, thus overtaking Mumbai as the busiest airport.
Delhi will, however, be far from international airports like Gatwick in London which handles around 700 flights daily.
"We have not allowed any additional flight movements for the winter schedule and have kept it at 32 per hour," said a spokesperson from Mumbai International Airport Ltd.
"We have allowed some additional flight movements by adjusting the schedules between the peak and non-peak hours. We have moderated in the peak hours and allowed some addition of capacity during the non-peak hours," said Andrew Harrison, CEO, Delhi International Airport Ltd.
Also, the number of daily flights cancelled by airlines out of Mumbai during June was around 87, while those cancelled out of Delhi stood at around 70.
An airport executive, however, said it would only be possible for Delhi to become the busiest airport if the airlines used the additional capacity being created in the Delhi airport and actually increased flights, something which has still not
"After the 25 per cent cuts in capacity, which was done in June, airlines during the winter schedule will only add around 5-6 per cent more flights to the decreased capacity.
"So, we are not looking at too many busy airports anyway," said the executive.
Also the terminal capacity to handle passengers has not increased in line with the runway capacity to handle flights. Terminal 1 D, which was supposed to be constructed by the end of this year, has been deferred till next year.
"The capacity of the existing terminals has, however, been increased to handle 350 extra aircraft at any given time," said an airport official.