Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the Chandigarh International Airport in a brief ceremony at SAS Nagar.
The airport is, however, expected to be operational by October 19, until when all the 26 domestic flights to and from the city will operate from the existing airport.
After the inauguration, Modi took a quick tour of the building of the new airport, which has beeen built over 308 acres of land in Jheurheri village at a cost of Rs 452 crore.
Punjab and Haryana governor, the chief ministers of both the states, and leaders of the BJP and the SAD were present on the occasion.
Name not announced
Modi, however, said nothing about what the new terminal will be called.
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 the terminal to be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Some Chandigarh residents have demanded that the airport be named after the iconic artist and Rock Garden creater, Nek Chand, who passed away recently.
Until then, the terminal is just being referred to as Chandigarh International Airport.
After inaugurating the airport, Modi went to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) where he attended the institute’s annual convocation.
Later, the Prime Minister addressed a rally at the Sector 25 rally ground.
The operations of the international airport will be run under the joint venture of Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL); the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has 51% stake and the remaining is 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 contributed by transferring 308 acres of land to it. The new terminal building has been designed on a Green Building concept, and has five levels. The arrival hall is on the ground floor and the departure on the first.
The new terminal project also includes an elevated road to facilitate departure of passengers from the first floor, besides an interconnected tunnel for services, which also joins the terminal building and the service block.
The new terminal building project also includes rain water harvesting and re-use of treated water for flushing and gardening.
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 aircraft, which will take another two years.
The air traffic controller (ATC) is also with the air force, which that is yet to decide on making the runaway available round the clock for civil aircraft.
The landing of aircrafts in low visibility is another area that needs immediate attention, officials have said. The existing basic CAT-I instrument landing system is not capable of assisting the planes when visibility drops below 1,200 m. The CAT-II system will be made operational by 2017.
The new airport
Area: 308 acres
Cost Rs 452 crore
Distance from Sector-17 ISBT: 19km
Terminal building area: 53,000 sq m
Passenger capacity: 1,600 (1,150 domestic; 450 international)
Immigration counters: 8
Ticketing counters: 12
Check-in counters: 48
Car-parking capacity: 500