In a major setback, the city's first proposed international flight has been grounded even before it could take off. Ministry of defence has denied permission to Air Arabia, the only airlines that had come forward, to launch international flight operations from the City Beautiful.
Officials concerned say the ministry hasn't given any specific reasons for denying permission to the airlines. A senior official from the Punjab government said, "The airline has received a one-line letter, saying, "Your interest for starting an international flight from the Chandigarh airport was considered, however the air force has objected to it, thus the clearance cannot be granted."
The airline authorities are upset over the development and now want the government to take up the issue with the ministry.
Confirming the development, Capt Abhay Chandra, adviser, civil aviation, Punjab, said, "The airline has approached us after they were denied the permission. It has come as a rude shock to the state government as well, since it too has its international airport coming up in Mohali. Now the senior officials in the government would be taking up the matter with the defence ministry to sort out the issue."
Meanwhile, the spokesperson from the local air force station said the request by the airline had been forwarded to Delhi, and if the permission had been denied, it was by the defence ministry, and they had got nothing to do with it.
After Air Arabia had approached the city airport to start international flights, the authorities spent around Rs 10 crore to get the airport equipped to handle the international operations. Both customs as well as immigration counters have been set up and the staff deployed.
A K Nizar, sales and distribution head, Air Arabia, while talking to the Hindustan Times from Chennai, said, "It is quite disheartening to know that we have been denied permission to start operations from Chandigarh. We would have loved to have flights from City Beautiful. Now, we will wait for the state government to take up the issue with the ministry."