Even as international flights are yet to start from the Chandigarh airport on September 15, nearly a year after its international terminal was inaugurated, there has been a significant increase in domestic traffic during this period, with private airlines introducing eight more flights from the city.
In the past one year, the annual volume of passengers has gone up from 12 lakh to 15 lakh. Till last year, there were only 13 daily flights from the city but their number has gone to 21 now. The destinations include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Srinagar.
The airport had only three flights a day when it began its operations in 2006. Airport officials say around 6 lakh passengers are from Punjab, Rs 3 lakh each from Himachal, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the international terminal, which was built at `1,400 crore, On September 11 last year.
AIRPORT YET TO UPGRADE INSTRUMENT LANDING SYSTEM
Despite the Punjab and Haryana high court’s recent directions, the airport authorities have failed to upgrade the CAT-II instrument landing system (ILS) to CAT-III when there is poor visibility.
Even as the authorities had assured the court that tenders will be floated for re-carpeting of runway in September and that it would be made CAT-III compliant soon, nothing has been done so far.
NO BASIC FACILITIES YET
The international terminal does not have basic facilities as of now. The Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) has even told the Punjab and Haryana high court facilities such as Wi-Fi, money exchange, additional ATMs and duty-free shops will not be there for now as tenders that were floated in this regard received a tepid response. The deadline for receiving bids has been extended, CHIAL said.
‘WILL MAKE FACILITIES AVAILABLE SOON’
Chandigarh International Airport director Suneel Dutt said, “We have already floated tenders for Wi-Fi, restaurants, and 18 shops. We will hopefully start these facilities this month only. As far as the upgrade of instrument landing system concerned, it is the Indian Air Force’s domain since it is a defence-controlled facility.”
Vaneet Sharma, who runs a travel agency in Sector 17, said, “It is disheartening that even after one year the airport does not have CAT-III ILS which is must for operations during low visibility. The runway upgrade is also pending. The airport authorities should expedite the process of installation of CATIII ILS and runway upgrade to enable international carriers to operate full-size, wide-bodied aircraft.”
2 AIRLINES TO START INT’L FLIGHTS IN SEPT
Air India Express, a low-cost subsidiary of Air India, will start its thrice-a-weekly flights from the city to Sharjah on September 15. The 186-seater aircraft will operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The Indigo Airlines will start its daily non-stop flight between Chandigarh and Dubai from September 26.