There will be no international flight from the Chandigarh airport this summer. Indigo Airlines, which is keen to start operations from the city, will take at least a month to announce the schedule.
The Punjab and Haryana high court has on Monday directed the Indigo Airlines to announce its flight schedule from Chandigarh International airport by June end for its proposed Dubai flight. The high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice HS Sidhu also directed Air India to submit its proposed combo-flight schedule on the next date of hearing on July 20.
Requisite infrastructure such as CAT-IIIB system, which enables aircraft to land in zero visibility, and expansion of runway by 100m could be fast-tracked as direction was issued by the HC to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and defence ministry to hold a meeting within 20 days, but there will be no international flight this summer as Indigo told the HC that even as it is given all permissions by June 10, it would take another 20 days to come out with a schedule for operation, that too in October or November.
Moreover, the combo flight of Air India could also take some more time to take off due to security reasons cited by the Central government. Meanwhile, Air India is planning a direct international flight from the city airport by the year end.
Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey, who was summoned to explain the delay, defended the government and said building a terminal was the first step in the direction to make an airport international and everything else would follow. The government was wrongly being targeted on the issue, he added.
“We have created a new terminal just when its existing infrastructure is coming to a saturation point. Airports like Patna, Pune and Bagdogra are facing problems as requisite upgrade has not taken place in time, but in the case of Chandigarh, the terminal has been built at right time,” he said.
During over two hours of hearing, the secretary also clarified that no airline was being scared away to not start operations from the city airport and said allegations were misplaced. “The old terminal had capacity to cater 0.8 million passengers. The passenger load has increased to 1.5 million. Any infrastructure created is for the next 30-40 years,” secretary said to the HC.