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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Pathankot airport plain empty

Vinay Dhingra, Hindustan Times  Pathankot, October 14, 2013
First Published: 23:52 IST(14/10/2013) | Last Updated: 23:54 IST(14/10/2013)

No hope has landed for the return of airline companies who took flight from Pathankot after profit nosedived.

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In two years, there has been no flight at the domestic airport here. The facility was created in November 2006 by the efforts of the-then Gurdaspur member of Patliament, Bollywood film actor Vinod Khanna, who had planned to make Pathankot a tourist spot and industrial hub.

During the high-profile inauguration, the-then aviation minister, Praful Patel, had assured more flights than just Delhi-Pathankot-Kullu started at that time. The lone flight hardly had any passengers and, facing losses, the carriers suspended their flights. The airport continued to serve the VVIPs, including the film actors who would come here for election campaign, but resuming domestic flights was of little interest to the ruling leaders.

Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president, local legislator Ashwani Sharma, and Pathankot deputy commissioner Siben C took a revival project to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal but since the CM knew why the airlines were disinterested, he could do little to help.

There's a good demand for flights connected to Delhi, Jammu, and Srinagar. "The aviation ministry should start this service instead of the Kullu flight that has few passengers," said travel agent Ashok Jahaj. "The executives of many multinational companies call me up for booking flight to Leh. We could have earned by selling them this route's ticket." he added.

If a Srinagar flights started from Pathankot, he would be interested, said local dental surgeon Dr BP Bhandari. "I will then be able to spend weekend in Srinagar with family, as would many local people," he said, adding that it would benefit the airlines and open a new channel for the Jammu and Kashmir government to earn from tourism.

"The government, without losing any time, should start the flights to Srinagar, Leh and New Delhi from Pathankot, for many locals that are interested," said the dental surgeon. The security personnel at the airport said they got bored in the deserted facility. "If flights resumed, it would be a pleasure again to work here," said a guard.

The aviation officers could not be contacted in spite of repeated calls at the available numbers.

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