Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), the country’s busiest and the world’s 20th busiest, has achieved the highest on-time performance (OTP), albeit for a month, among airports that handle the most number of passengers.
Data for August released by OAG, a UK-based air travel consulting company that analyses travel data, in its Flightview section showed that Delhi had achieved its highest punctuality in the financial year 2018-19 with an OTP of 82.9%.
For the first time, IGIA breached the 60 million-mark and handled 63.5 million passengers in 2017, making it to the list of the world’s top 20 busiest airports. It is expected to breach the 70 million passenger mark this year. OTP is a measure of flights departing or arriving within 15 minutes of scheduled departure or arrival.
To be sure, Delhi doesn’t do as well when compared with smaller airports that handle a limited number of flights. It figured at the 348th position overall in terms of on-time performance given that many smaller airports, which handle around 10 departures every day, have a better OTP.
But Delhi’s performance stood out among the busiest; handling 630 departures a day it achieved an OTP close to 83%, Chicago international airport, the world’s busiest ,handling 1,200 departures a day, achieved an OTP of 71.6% in August.
In July, Delhi’s OTP was 78.5%, the third highest among 20 busiest airports with Seattle leading with 83.2%. In June, Delhi was on fourth and in May, Delhi was not even in top 10 with 78% OTP. Delhi’s overall ranking improved from 831 in May to 593 in June and 484 in July to 348 in August.
“Smaller airports will naturally have better OTP since they are not facing (capacity or traffic) constraints. In India, most of the metro airports are operating beyond capacity and an OTP between 80-85% should be considered very good.
If they can improve it further, nothing like it, but maintaining it in this range will also be an achievement,” said Mark Martin, founder and CEO of Dubai-based Martin Consulting.
Indian airports such as Hubli, Mangalore and Vadodara figure on the list of the top 100 airports with the best OTP, but they handle only around 300-600 flights a month. Among other metro airports, Mumbai with a 77% OTP found itself in 637th position, improving from 834 in July.
According to an official of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a GMR Group-led consortium that operates Delhi airport, Delhi handled 19,748 flight movements in August.
“The airport operator has taken several measures to enhance the OTP of all departing flights. Airport Operations Control Centre (AOCC) enables efficient handling of airport operations including parking bay allocation. There is also a dedicated flight operations performance committee involving all key stakeholders for faster decision making,” said an official of DIAL who didn’t want to be named.
Delhi airport’s air traffic flow management system also helps in better planning of operations and predictability. Also, aerobridges, fuel hydrant systems, ground handling processes and baggage handling systems enable quicker turnaround of flights.
“Credit should also go to air traffic controllers for handling so many flights and helping in achieving the goal,” Martin said.>