After being unused since 2012, the airport at Jubbarhatti, 15 kilometres from the state capital, is going to be functional from November 15.
Shimla airport director Parvindra Tiwari said non-scheduled flights would be operational from that date, while other commercial flights could be operating after the talks between the state and the airlines involved. He said a few months ago, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had inspected the facility and submitted a report pointing out issues with the runway’s length and testing, besides the removal of a mobile-communication tower.
He said the issues had been resolved as directed by the DGCA and keeping safety in mind. “A mobile tower on the hill near the airport is a cause for concern. We have briefed the Solan deputy commissioner about it,” said Tiwari. In 2012, flights from the airport were suspended in the wake of soil erosion that shrunk the runway to 3,800 feet from 4,100 feet. Since Kingfisher Airlines stopped operations on September 6, 2012, even though the government tried, no flight has landed at Jubbarhatti, which has hit high-end tourism.
In a February trial run, an ATR-42 aircraft had landed at the airport. In May 2013, President Pranab Mukherjee flew to the city in an air force helicopter that landed at the Kalyani helipad. About 30 employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and 65 of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the facility have been idle for the past two years.
Two weeks given to remove deficiencies
The Himachal Pradesh high court has granted the Shimla airport authorities two weeks to remove the deficiencies that the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has pointed out in a status report. In its reply to a petition about non-operational flights from Shimla, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had submitted that matter was being taken up with the authorities concerned.
A division bench comprising chief justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed these orders on a writ petition filed by Paras Dhaulta. The court listed the matter for November 18.