Mumbai, Apr 2 (PTI) With more than 600 commercial planes falling silent in India, a global airports' grouping on Thursday said finding 'enough space' for parking aircraft is the main challenge faced by aerodrome operators.
India is under a 21-day lockdown and domestic as well as international flights have been suspended till April 14. Cargo flights and special flights approved by aviation regulator DGCA are operating in the Indian airspace.
Aircraft are also being parked on non-operational runways.
According to the Airport Council International (ACI), the main challenge for airport operators is to provide enough parking space for these aircraft.
'Typically airports will try to use remote stands - which are the stands away from the passenger terminal - first, then a maintenance hangar, and as a last resort taxiways,' Samantha Solomon, spokesperson for ACI Asia Pacific arm, told PTI.
The ACI serves 641 members operating 1,953 airports in 176 countries. ACI Asia-Pacific has 113 members operating 602 airports in 49 countries and territories, including India.
'Importantly, parking aircraft on taxiways does not pose safety problems as long as the aircraft is not bigger than the size that the taxiway is designed to accommodate,' she said.
India has eight major airlines with a combines fleet of about 650 planes comprising wide-bodied Jumbo 747-400s, the fuel guzzler Boeing 777s, Dreamliners (B787s), narrow-bodied A320 family, B737s and regional jets ATRs and Bomabrdier Q400s.
Last week, an official of the Association of Private Airports Operator (APAO) had said that considering the 'unprecedented' situation, Delhi airport allowed some of the aircraft to be parked on the taxiways since there was no air traffic movement barring a few cargo or special flights.
Parking aircraft at the taxiways should not pose a 'serious' problem, as per the ACI.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital is the country's largest aerodrome and has 194 parking stands for planes. This excludes stands available for general aviation purposes.
General aviation refers to use of planes for recreation and chartered services, among others.
When taxiways are used, operations would be less efficient because they are blocked, leaving incoming and outbound flights fewer choices to move around, Solomon said.
'This means sometimes single-way taxiways are used for two-way traffic. However because there are now much fewer flights, this should not pose a serious problem,' she added.
State-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh had said the AAI was able to manage parking of planes.
The AAI manages 137 airports and out of them, 107 are operational.
'So far we have been able to manage. In Delhi airport, operational runway is being used to park. Rest, we have been able to accommodate,' he had said. Parking idle planes pose challenge for airport operators worldwide. PTI IAS MKJ