Serving the city of Mumbai and the surrounding Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Mumbai International Airport Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) is one of India’s busiest and most critical airports. As the second busiest airport in India by passenger traffic, CSMIA handled over 43 million passengers in fiscal year 2022-2023. It is also Asia’s 14th busiest and the world’s 28th busiest airport by passenger numbers. CSMIA provides flights to more than 100 domestic and international destinations, connecting Mumbai to the rest of India and globally. The airport additionally serves as a hub for Air India and Vistara along with a focus city for multiple other airlines.
Beyond being a vital transport hub, CSMIA also represents a cultural, historical, and developmental landmark of Mumbai. Through its architectural design, amenities, and services, the airport showcases quintessential Indian art, heritage of the Maratha Empire era. On top of this, by providing employment, revenue and infrastructure to the region, CSMIA importantly enables economic and social growth across the MMR.
Table of Contents
Mumbai International Airport Historical Background
Dating back to the 1930s, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has a fascinating history. Originally built as a military airbase by the British Royal Air Force (RAF), the airfield known as RAF Santacruz played a vital role in World War II by hosting multiple RAF squadrons and supporting Allied operations across Asia and Africa. Following India’s independence in 1947, control of the airbase transferred to the civil aviation authorities, becoming a public airport. Initially dubbed “Sahar Airport” after the nearby Sahar village, over time, the airport underwent various expansions and upgrades to meet rising air travel demand. New terminals, runways and amenities were constructed to accommodate additional planes and passengers. Alongside this growth, the airport also faced challenges like congestion, security issues and environmental concerns that necessitated innovative solutions. Key historical incidents witnessed include the first jet landing in India, the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight, and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
1.3. Naming and Legacy
In 1999, the airport was rechristened “Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport” in honor of Shivaji (1630-1680), founder and leader of the Maratha Empire, widely regarded as a national hero in India symbolizing courage, bravery and patriotism. The name was further amended in 2018 by attaching the title “Maharaj”, meaning “great king” in Marathi, the official language of Maharashtra where Mumbai is situated. This renaming signifies the immense respect and pride that Mumbai and Maharashtra’s people have for Shivaji and his enduring legacy.
The airport also pays tribute to Shivaji through its design, artwork and services. Unveiled in 2014, Terminal 2 draws inspiration from the peacock, India’s national bird and a common motif in Maratha culture. The terminal is home to the Jaya He Museum displaying over 7,000 Indian artworks and artifacts spanning regions and periods, including the Maratha rule. Various amenities provided for passenger convenience include Pranaam Meet and Greet Services, Niranta Airport Transit Hotel, Adani Lounges and facial recognition technology.
History of Mumbai International Airport
2.1. Early Developments
The roots of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport can be traced to the 1930s when the British Royal Air Force (RAF) opted to construct a military air base on marshlands near the Santacruz village, located approximately 20 km north of what was then called Bombay.
Completed in 1937 and operational by 1938, the airfield dubbed RAF Santacruz played a vital role backing Allied forces across Asia and Africa amid World War II. RAF Santacruz hosted multiple RAF squadrons flying various aircraft like Hawker Hurricanes, Bristol Blenheims, Vickers Wellingtons and Consolidated Liberators. The airfield also functioned as a transit point for personnel and aircraft headed between India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Post India’s 1947 independence, control of RAF Santacruz transferred to the civil aviation bodies, becoming a public airport. Initially utilized for domestic flights unlike the neighboring Juhu Aerodrome used for international flights, the latter was deemed unsafe and inadequate for modern aircraft given rising air traffic. Hence, in 1952, the government decided to expand RAF Santacruz to be Bombay’s sole air terminal.
2.2. Expansion and Modernization
The modernization and expansion of RAF Santacruz kicked off in 1954 with construction of a new eastern passenger building and apron. Designed by renowned architect Frederick William Stevens, the terminal opened in 1958 led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. With a capacity for 1,200 passengers hourly, the terminal incorporated spacious lounges, dining areas, bars and duty-free shops. Its unique dome-shaped ceiling became an airport landmark.
Additionally, a new 3,048 meter long, 45 meter wide runway was built west of the existing one in 1971, allowing larger aircraft like Boeing 747s to be handled. Cutting-edge navigational technology, including instrument landing systems, radar and communication gear were installed, improving air traffic safety and efficiency.
However, exponential traffic growth soon exceeded infrastructure capabilities in the 1970s. Congestion and overcrowding resulted in delays, cancellations and accidents. Moreover, incidents like the 1971 hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft and 1978 Air India bombing highlighted security threats and the urgent need for a new international terminal separate from domestic operations.
2.3. Terminal Development
Construction began in 1979 on Sahar Terminal, the new international wing situated at the airport’s northern edge, designed by renowned architect Joseph Allen Stein. Officially opened in 1980 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the terminal had a 2,400 passenger hourly capacity coupled with contemporary aesthetics including a glass facade, steel truss roof and landscaped gardens. Additional facilities provided immigration counters, baggage carousels, customs booths and a transit hotel.
Adjoining the new runway, further westward development continued through the 1980s comprising new aprons, taxiways and aircraft bays. The air traffic control tower atop the domestic terminal was revamped, now reaching 46 meters for 360-degree visibility and fitted with cutting-edge radar and communication systems.
In following decades, both domestic and international wings underwent continual upgrades by constructing new halls, gates and wings to match rising air travel demand, whilst renovating interiors, exteriors and amenities for enhanced comfort. Modern conveniences like self-check-in kiosks, e-visa counters and Wi-Fi were introduced additionally.
The 2000s saw commencement of a major redevelopment project to build Terminal 2, an integrated facility replacing the original international terminal. Conceptualized by renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, T2 opened in 2014 headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with 40 million annual passenger capacity. Its sleek X-shaped layout, lofty roofs and multi-level transport represented a pinnacle of modern design. The terminal also incorporated the Jaya He Museum showcasing over 7,000 Indian artworks.
Concurrently, runways, taxiways and aircraft bays were reconfigured and resurfaced to heighten operational efficiency. The air traffic control tower was rebuilt taller at 83.8 meters as India’s tallest, with panoramic views and cutting-edge systems. The airport today has two operating terminals for domestic and international flights respectively, alongside dual runways able to handle 48 aircraft movements hourly and world-class amenities.
Passenger and Air Traffic
3.1. Traffic Milestones
Over the years, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has witnessed remarkable aviation growth, mirroring rising air travel demand in India and globally. The airport has achieved several noteworthy passenger and air traffic milestones:
* In 1977, CSMIA became India’s first airport to handle an annual figure surpassing one million passengers.
* By 1999, it was the nation’s first airport to welcome over 10 million yearly passengers.
* In 2007, CSMIA became India’s maiden airport to exceed 25 million annual passengers.
* In 2017, it briefly became the sole global airport handling 1,003 aircraft movements in a single day.
* By 2018, CSMIA was yet again India’s first airport to serve over 50 million annual passengers.
These accomplishments underscore CSMIA’s operational excellence and efficiency alongside its wider industry and economic contributions. The sustained aviation expansion reflects the airport’s integral role as both a travel hub and catalyst for growth.
3.2. Operational Challenges
However, the airport also faces several operational challenges, as the growth in traffic exceeds the capacity of the existing infrastructure. The airport suffers from congestion and crowding, resulting in delays, cancellations, and diversions. Some of the major challenges are:
- The airport has limited land availability, as it is surrounded by residential and commercial areas, limiting its scope for expansion and development.
- The airport has two cross runways, which intersect at a point, reducing the simultaneous use of both runways and affecting the runway capacity.
- The airport has a high density of air traffic, as it shares the airspace with other nearby airports, such as Pune, Surat, and Ahmedabad, creating conflicts and complexities in the air traffic management.
- The airport has a high demand for slots, as it serves a large number of airlines and destinations, creating competition and scarcity in the allocation of slots.
- The airport has a high impact of weather, as it is prone to fog, rain, and wind, affecting the visibility and safety of the flights.
These challenges require innovative solutions and strategies, such as:
- The airport has implemented various modernization and optimization initiatives, such as the construction of Terminal 2, the reconfiguration and resurfacing of runways and taxiways, and the relocation and rebuilding of the air traffic control tower.
- The airport has adopted various technological and digital solutions, such as the use of biometric and facial recognition systems, the installation of remote and virtual tower systems, and the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools .
- The airport has collaborated with various stakeholders and authorities, such as the Airports Authority of India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Indian Air Force, and the airlines, to coordinate and streamline the operations and regulations .
- The airport has enhanced its resilience and preparedness, such as the development of a contingency plan, the establishment of a crisis management team, and the conduct of regular drills and exercises .
These solutions and strategies aim to improve the performance and quality of the airport, as well as to ensure the safety and satisfaction of the passengers.
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Ownership and Structure
4.1. Ownership Transition
CSMIA has undergone several changes in its ownership and structure over the years, reflecting the changing dynamics and trends in the aviation industry. The airport was initially owned and operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), a statutory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, which manages most of the airports in India. However, in 2006, the airport was privatized and transferred to a joint venture company, named Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).
MIAL was formed by a consortium of GVK Industries, Airports Company South Africa, and Bidvest, which won the bid to operate and develop the airport for 30 years, with an option to extend for another 10 years. The consortium held a 74% stake in MIAL, while the remaining 26% was retained by AAI. The consortium was responsible for the modernization and expansion of the airport, as well as the management and maintenance of the airport operations and services.
4.2. Structural Improvements
Under the consortium’s leadership, CSMIA underwent several structural improvements, which enhanced its aesthetics, design, and passenger conveniences. Some of the major improvements were:
- The construction of Terminal 2, which was a flagship project of the consortium, costing about Rs. 12,500 crore. The terminal, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was a world-class facility, with a capacity of 40 million passengers per year, a stunning design, and a multi-level transportation system. The terminal also housed the Jaya He Museum, which displayed more than 7,000 artworks and artifacts from various regions and periods of India.
- The enhancement of the airside projects, which involved the reconfiguration and resurfacing of the runways and taxiways, the installation of new navigational aids and lighting systems, and the development of new parking bays and aprons. The airside projects also involved the signing of a 10-year agreement with Air Transport IT specialist SITA, which provided various solutions and services, such as common-use check-in and boarding systems, baggage management systems, and airport management systems.
- The acquisition and control by Adani Group, which was a recent development in the ownership and structure of the airport. In 2020, Adani Group, a conglomerate with interests in various sectors, such as energy, infrastructure, and mining, acquired a 74% stake in MIAL from the consortium, after a long legal battle. In 2021, Adani Group took over the management and control of the airport, renaming it as Adani Airport. Adani Group also plans to invest Rs. 10,000 crore in the airport, to further improve its infrastructure and facilities.
These improvements demonstrate the consortium’s and Adani Group’s commitment and vision to make CSMIA a world-class airport, as well as to contribute to the development and growth of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
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5.1. Runways and Airside Operations
CSMIA has two runways, which are used for both takeoffs and landings. The runways are:
- Runway 09/27: This is the main runway, which is 3,660 meters long and 60 meters wide. It is located on the western side of the airport and runs parallel to the Arabian Sea. It can handle all types of aircraft, including wide-body jets, such as Airbus A380 and Boeing 747. It is equipped with Category III-B instrument landing system, which enables low-visibility operations. It also has high-intensity runway edge lights, runway centerline lights, and touchdown zone lights, which enhance the safety and efficiency of the runway.
- Runway 14/32: This is the secondary runway, which is 2,990 meters long and 45 meters wide. It is located on the eastern side of the airport and runs across the main runway. It can handle most types of aircraft, except for the heaviest ones, such as Airbus A380 and Boeing 747. It is equipped with Category I instrument landing system, which enables basic low-visibility operations. It also has medium-intensity runway edge lights, runway centerline lights, and touchdown zone lights, which enhance the safety and efficiency of the runway.
The runways are connected by a network of taxiways, which allow the aircraft to move between the runways and the terminals. The taxiways are:
- Taxiway N: This is the northernmost taxiway, which connects the main runway with Terminal 2. It is 1,500 meters long and 25 meters wide. It has four rapid exit taxiways, which allow the aircraft to vacate the runway quickly and reduce the runway occupancy time.
- Taxiway W: This is the westernmost taxiway, which connects the main runway with the apron on the western side of the airport. It is 2,400 meters long and 25 meters wide. It has six rapid exit taxiways, which allow the aircraft to vacate the runway quickly and reduce the runway occupancy time.
- Taxiway S: This is the southernmost taxiway, which connects the main runway with Terminal 1. It is 1,800 meters long and 25 meters wide. It has four rapid exit taxiways, which allow the aircraft to vacate the runway quickly and reduce the runway occupancy time.
- Taxiway E: This is the easternmost taxiway, which connects the secondary runway with the apron on the eastern side of the airport. It is 2,100 meters long and 25 meters wide. It has four rapid exit taxiways, which allow the aircraft to vacate the runway quickly and reduce the runway occupancy time.
The airport also has a large apron area, which provides parking and servicing facilities for the aircraft. The apron area is divided into two parts, one on the western side and one on the eastern side of the airport. The apron area has:
- 108 parking bays, which can accommodate various types of aircraft, ranging from small turboprops to large wide-body jets. The parking bays are equipped with aerobridges, ground power units, and air conditioning units, which provide convenience and comfort to the passengers and the crew.
- 15 remote stands, which can accommodate additional aircraft, especially during peak hours or emergencies. The remote stands are connected to the terminals by buses, which transport the passengers and the crew to and from the aircraft.
- 8 cargo bays, which can handle up to 1.5 million tonnes of cargo per year. The cargo bays are equipped with specialized facilities, such as cold storage, animal quarantine, and hazardous material handling, which cater to the diverse needs of the cargo operators and customers.
The airport also has a state-of-the-art air traffic control tower, which is responsible for the safe and efficient management of the air traffic at the airport. The tower is:
- 83.8 meters high, which makes it the tallest in India and one of the tallest in the world. It has a panoramic view of the entire airport and its surroundings, which enhances the situational awareness and visibility of the controllers.
- Equipped with advanced systems, such as radar, communication, navigation, surveillance, and automation, which enable the controllers to monitor and coordinate the movements of the aircraft on the ground and in the air.
- Staffed by highly trained and experienced professionals, who work in shifts and follow strict procedures and protocols, to ensure the safety and efficiency of the airport operations.
5.2. Terminals and Facilities
CSMIA has two terminals, which cater to domestic and international flights respectively. The terminals are:
- Terminal 1: This is the domestic terminal, which handles flights operated by low-cost carriers, such as IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir. It is located on the eastern side of the airport and has a capacity of 20 million passengers per year. It has three levels, which are:
- Level 1: This is the arrivals level, which has 16 baggage carousels, 12 immigration counters, and 8 customs counters. It also has various facilities, such as a medical center, a lost and found office, and a currency exchange office.
- Level 2: This is the departures level, which has 192 check-in counters, 48 security check points, and 16 boarding gates. It also has various facilities, such as a lounge, a spa, and a food court.
- Level 3: This is the mezzanine level, which has offices and utilities for the airport staff and the airlines.
- Terminal 2: This is the international terminal, which handles flights operated by full-service carriers, such as Air India, Vistara, and Emirates. It is located on the northern end of the airport and has a capacity of 40 million passengers per year. It has four levels, which are:
- Level 1: This is the arrivals level, which has 24 baggage carousels, 88 immigration counters, and 14 customs counters. It also has various facilities, such as a transit hotel, a duty-free shop, and a baggage storage facility.
- Level 2: This is the departures level, which has 192 check-in counters, 72 security check points, and 78 boarding gates. It also has various facilities, such as a lounge, a spa, and a food court.
- Level 3: This is the retail level, which has more than 200 shops and outlets, offering a wide range of products and services, such as fashion, electronics, books, and souvenirs. It also has the Jaya He Museum, which displays more than 7,000 artworks and artifacts from various regions and periods of India.
- Level 4: This is the mezzanine level, which has offices and utilities for the airport staff and the airlines.
The terminals are connected by a six-lane elevated road, which allows the passengers and the vehicles to move between the terminals easily and quickly. The terminals are also connected by a metro rail system, which is under construction and expected to be operational by 2023. The metro rail system will link the airport with the city center and other parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, providing a fast and convenient mode of transport for the passengers and the public.
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Connectivity and Awards
CSMIA offers excellent connectivity to the passengers, as it serves more than 100 domestic and international destinations, connecting Mumbai with the rest of India and the world. The airport has:
- 50 domestic destinations, which cover all the major cities and regions of India, such as Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, Jaipur, and Kochi. The airport also serves some of the remote and underserved destinations, such as Leh, Port Blair, Srinagar, and Jammu, providing access and opportunities to the people and the places.
- 54 international destinations, which span across six continents, such as Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Australia. The airport also serves some of the prominent and popular destinations, such as London, New York, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Sydney, facilitating trade and tourism between Mumbai and the world.
The airport also has a global reach and connectivity achievements, such as:
- The airport is a hub for Air India and Vistara, which are the flag carriers and full-service airlines of India, offering a wide range of flights and services to the passengers.
- The airport is a focus city for several other airlines, such as IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, AirAsia India, and Alliance Air, which are the low-cost and regional airlines of India, offering affordable and convenient flights to the passengers.
- The airport is a base for several foreign airlines, such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, and British Airways, which are the leading and prestigious airlines of the world, offering premium and luxury flights to the passengers.
- The airport is a member of Star Alliance, which is the largest and most comprehensive airline alliance in the world, offering seamless and integrated travel experience to the passengers.
6.2. Recognitions and Awards
CSMIA has received several recognitions and awards, which acknowledge its operational excellence and quality of service. Some of the notable awards are:
- The airport was ranked the Best Airport in India and Central Asia by Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2021, for the sixth consecutive year. The airport was also ranked the 52nd Best Airport in the World by the same awards.
- The airport was awarded the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award by Airports Council International (ACI) in 2020, for the Best Airport by Size and Region (over 40 million passengers per year in Asia-Pacific). The airport was also awarded the ASQ Award for the Best Airport in Environment and Ambience by Size (over 40 million passengers per year).
- The airport was conferred the Golden Peacock Award for Sustainability by the Institute of Directors (IOD) in 2019, for its outstanding performance and initiatives in the field of sustainability and environmental management.
- The airport was honored with the CAPA India Airport of the Year Award by the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) in 2018, for its significant contribution and leadership in the Indian aviation industry.
These awards reflect the airport’s commitment and vision to provide a world-class airport experience to the passengers and the stakeholders.
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7.1. Achievements and Future Prospects
CSMIA has achieved remarkable feats in the aviation industry, as it has become one of the busiest and most important airports in India and the world. The airport has:
- Handled over 43 million passengers and over 300,000 aircraft movements in the fiscal year 2022-2023, making it the second busiest airport in India and the 28th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic.
- Served more than 100 domestic and international destinations, connecting Mumbai with the rest of India and the world, and offering a wide range of flights and services to the passengers.
- Showcased the art, architecture, and heritage of India, especially of the Maratha Empire, through its design, features, and services, and displayed more than 7,000 artworks and artifacts from various regions and periods of India in the Jaya He Museum.
- Contributed to the economic and social growth of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, providing employment, revenue, and infrastructure to the region, and facilitating trade and tourism between Mumbai and the world.
CSMIA also has a bright future ahead, as it plans to further improve its infrastructure and facilities, as well as to expand its capacity and connectivity. The airport has:
- A metro rail system, which is under construction and expected to be operational by 2023, which will link the airport with the city center and other parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, providing a fast and convenient mode of transport for the passengers and the public.
- A new runway, which is proposed and awaiting approval, which will be parallel to the main runway and increase the runway capacity and efficiency of the airport, and enable the airport to handle up to 60 aircraft movements per hour.
- A new terminal, which is envisioned and planned, which will be integrated with Terminal 2 and increase the passenger capacity and functionality of the airport, and enable the airport to handle up to 100 million passengers per year.
- A new cargo complex, which is designed and developed, which will be located on the eastern side of the airport and increase the cargo capacity and operations of the airport, and enable the airport to handle up to 2.5 million tonnes of cargo per year.
These plans and projects aim to make CSMIA a world-class airport, as well as to meet the growing demand and expectations of the passengers and the stakeholders.
7.2. Final Thoughts
CSMIA is a remarkable airport, which has a rich and fascinating history, a vibrant and dynamic present, and a promising and ambitious future. The airport is not only a vital transport hub, but also a landmark of Mumbai’s culture, history, and development. The airport is not only a gateway to Mumbai, but also a gateway to India and the world. The airport is not only a place of travel, but also a place of art, culture, and heritage.
CSMIA is an airport that deserves recognition and appreciation, as it has achieved excellence and quality in its operations and services, as well as contributed to the development and growth of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. CSMIA is an airport that inspires pride and respect, as it reflects the spirit and legacy of Shivaji and the Maratha Empire, as well as the vision and ambition of Mumbai and India. CSMIA is an airport that offers a pleasant and memorable experience to the passengers and the visitors, as it provides convenience and comfort, as well as beauty and wonder.