The final part of our flight and actually just before our arrival into Islamabad is a bit more interesting; we are now flying South in Tajikistan airspace and along the border with Afghanistan. Our route actually takes us through a small bit of Kabul airspace but only for about 15 NM so we don’t even need to contact them (and rumours have it there wouldn’t even be a controller listening due to the current situation there).
Mexico City is a challenging destination as it is situated between high mountains and the city itself, with a population of over 20 million people one of the largest cities in the world, is located at a high elevation of 7.300 feet above sea level. This means that we will come in at much higher ground speeds than normal because of the thin air.
After arrival at the airport the check-in agent warns us that the airplane will be delayed, a quick glance at Flightradar shows us that this is true but not worse than ten minutes. While that’s not a lot, it’s still problematic because roughly 70% of our passengers have connecting flights. The company can plan these connections with as little as 40 minutes of ground time, so even ten minutes could mean they miss it.
About 180 Nm before Moscow, ATC asked us to start our descent to 32000 feet and a few minutes later they requested us to keep minimum clean speed. I could hear a little stress in the controller’s voice. Flying minimum speed at this altitude and distance from our destination is not a good sign.