The lone airport in Ludhiana is in a 'crying need' for facilities even after several years of inauguration.
Though the Sahnewal airport was made 'fully functional' in June 2011, it still hasn't started operations completely.
Two months ago, Doppler very high frequency omni
range navigation (DVOR) system was installed to enhance visibility at the airport, but it too hasn't started functioning as the airport authorities are still waiting for the approval of Director General Civil Aviation to make it functional.
Due to this, several flights were cancelled owing to bad weather and dense fog. In January only two flights landed at the airport against 13 schedule flights.
In December also only three flights landed, while in November five flights landed at the airport.
If the DVOR system functions properly, it would help a pilot during landing as it enhances visibility.
Air India is the only airline, which provides air connectivity between Ludhiana and Delhi and vice-versa. The flights run three days a week but most of them are cancelled during winters.
Pilot Sukhjit Singh Hara while talking to HT said, "Sahnewal airport needs to be upgraded.
The authorities should make the DVOR system functional, with which the air connectivity would improve by 70%. Moreover, if the Instrument landing system (ILSR) is installed no flights will be cancelled."
He said, "The runway should be extended up to 7,000 feet. At present the runway is only 4,800 feet long because of which an airbus cannot land at the airport."
Rajesh Kalra, an exporter from Ludhiana said, "The airport should be upgraded and it is the need of the hour. If it becomes functional it will be a boon."
He added that effective air connectivity at the airport would increase business opportunities in city.
He rued that several times the flights were cancelled forcing people to travel by road, which wastes a lot of time.
The Sahnewal airport lack several other facilities as well and the road leading to the airport is also in poor condition. The railway crossing on the way to the airport is also troublesome for commuters.
When contacted Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, cabinet minister and MLA from Sahnewal said, "Availing approvals from the Centre is a big hassle. Our government has sent the proposal of a flyover at railway crossing near the airport, but the centre is yet to approve it."
He said, "We are also acquiring 400 acres of land for the airport, but it will also take a long time."
He also blamed the Centre for ignoring Punjab.
Several attempts were made to contact VP Jain, manager at the Sahnewal airport, but he too was not available for comments.
The airport helpline number too wasn't helpful in providing any information.
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