Residents of the region will have to wait for some more time to board flights from the Chandigarh International Airport even after its muchawaited inauguration.
The airport, which has been marred by delays, is scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 11. However, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is yet to decide the date of making it operational. Till then all 26 flights will continue to operate from the existing airport.
A lot needs to be done for making the airport operational, said Suneel Dutt, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chandigarh International Airport. The AAI requires at least four weeks to complete the work after the inauguration before flights can take off from the airport. “All airline operations including the AAI office, fuel depot and shops have to be shifted to the new airport. Even the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has to be deployed. It requires time to complete this process,” said Dutt.
The airport offering both domestic and international flights has come over 308 acres of land in Jheurheri village in SAS Nagar with a cost of Rs 452 crore. The operations of the international airport will be run under the joint venture Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) in which the AAI has 51% stake with the remaining being equally shared by Punjab and Haryana (24.5% each). The AAI has invested in the construction of the terminal building, taxiway and other related infrastructure, while Punjab and Haryana have contributed by way of transferring 308 acres of land to it.
The airport has two floors the first floor for departure and the ground floor for arrival. To depict the culture of the two states, a number of traditional paintings have been put up on the premises.
No consensus on name
Punjab and Haryana, both equal stakeholders, are yet to agree upon the name of the airport. Haryana wants it to be named after Chandigarh while Punjab is pressing for keeping it after the martyr Bhagat Singh. Chandigarh residents have demanded its naming after Nek Chand.
The airport road can be accessed from NH-21, close to The Tribune roundabout. GMADA has also come up with an airport expressway that will connect the Chandigarh-Patiala road and SAS Nagar-Kharar road to the new airport. The can be accessed from the Zirakpur side. The Chandigarh administration in its Master Plan 2031 has discussed three options to access the new airport by road. The plan recommends that the new terminal should be made accessible from the city by an underground tunnel if feasible. The other two options include connectivity from Purv Marg near Sector 48 and from the Zirakpur side as well to enable easy accessibility from all directions.
Areas that require attention
The runway, which is under the control of the Indian Air force, needs to be upgraded for full-sized wide-bodied aircrafts, which will take another two years. The air traffic controller (ATC) is also with the air force that is yet to decide on making the runaway available round the clock for civil aircrafts. The landing of aircrafts in low visibility is another area that needs immediate attention. The existing basic CAT-I instrument landing system is not capable to assisting the planes when visibility drops below 1,200 metres. The CAT-II system will be made operational by 2017.