Mumbai’s main airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International, located in the area of Santa Cruz (which it often referred to as) which is very much within city limits.
This airport replaced the older Juhu Aerodrome in 1942 when it initially opened as RAF Santacruz.
Today the airport has five terminals (three domestic and two international) and two runways, and is the second busiest airport in India. It handles a lot of domestic and international traffic, along with cargo, government and military movements.
It is a hub airport for Air India, BlueDart, GoAir, IndiGo, Jet Airways, and Spicejet, with Air India handling a lot of maintenance for their aircraft at the airport.
There is a master plan for expanding the airport to allow it to handle 40 million passengers per year – up from the current 30 million. The plan will see all domestic and international flights combined into one terminal building. Additionally, some of the existing terminals will be converted for cargo operations. There is also a plan to build a parallel runway and new taxiways. At present the plan is to complete the expansion by the end of 2014, but it has been delayed a number of times.
Spotting in India is not allowed and I do not recommend that you draw attention to yourself by using binoculars, cameras, or even noting down registrations near the airport or in the terminal building.
The Orchid Hotel has been known as a spotting hotel in Mumbai, with a good rooftop terrace and some rooms with views. As the hobby is not understood in India, it is still advised that you use discretion or speak with hotel staff prior to spotting.
We recently released the book Mumbai Airports Through Time which covers Mumbai’s two airports from the 1970s to the present day. It is packed full of glossy photographs of aircraft, past and present, by two Indian aviation photographers. Since it’s so difficult to spot in India, I recommend you take a look at this book to get a flavour of the aircraft and airlines operating into Mumbai.
You can find out more and order a copy here: www.destinworld.com