A team of Air India (AI) on Wednesday visited the city to assess financial viability of starting flights from the Bathinda airport located at Virk Kalan village.
The team, comprising MR Jindal, station manager Chandigarh, AI, and an official from Alliance Air, a subsidiary of AI, met representatives of trade and industry and additional deputy commissioner, Rahul Chaba. Later it also visited the airport.
Speaking about the visit, Jindal said, “The meeting was part of routine surveys that we conduct to assess financial viability for starting new flights.”
A district administration official said the meeting was facilitated because AI officials wanted to meet representatives from the area to get a feedback about the business, trade and industry here. He said the meeting was an “informal” one and no decision was taken with regard to starting flights from Bathinda.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of Guru Gobind Singh refinery, president of vyapar mandal Bathinda Rajinder Raju, managing director of Punjab Spintex Limited Suresh Gupta and others.
Raju said, “Keeping in view the big industry, presence of educational institutions and geographical location of the city, AI officials were apprised about prospects of starting flights from Bathinda.”
“If we start regular flights from Bathinda airport, it will cater not only to the locals, but also to areas in Rajasthan and Haryana,” he said.
It has been over three years since Bathinda airport was constructed at a cost of `25 crore. Punjab government had provided 40 acres for the project adjacent to Bhisiana Air Force station.
The airport building is being managed by the Airports Authority of India which also constructed it. However, the runway and occasional air traffic is being looked after by the Indian Air Force. The 9000-ft runway meets the standards required for big planes to land. However, the airport’s apron can accommodate only two 50-seater ATR-turbo prop aircraft at a time.
The ruling SAD-BJP government has for long been facing the flak for its failure to initiate regular flights from Bathinda.