Airlines staring at Rs 50 crore loss during 20-day closure of Chandigarh airport
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Airlines staring at Rs 50 crore loss during 20-day closure of Chandigarh airport

Inconvenience ahead Over 1 lakh passengers to be affected, 24-hour operation and flights to Canada, Australia demanded after runway upgrading work is completed.

punjab Updated: Mar 15, 2018 11:20 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,Airlines,Chandigarh airlines
(HT File Photo)

The airlines operating from Chandigarh International Airport are staring at combined revenue loss worth Rs 50 crore during the 20 days closure from May 12 to May 31 on account of completion of ongoing upgrading of the runway. This would the second closure after two weeks shut down in February.

An official with Air India said the daily traffic at the airport will increase to 6,000 passengers, including arrival and departure, as the operation hours is set to increase by one and a half hours by the end of this month.

“Even if we take a modest estimate, closure will put on hold journey of at least one lakh flyers in May when airline occupancy is as high as 95% due to summer breaks,” he said.

A SpiceJet official said, “If the revenue loss of one lakh flyers is translated in modest terms, it will not be less than Rs 50 crore considering that three international flights and 27 domestic flights currently operate from here. The average ticketing cost per seat ranges somewhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000.”

He said Airport Authority of India (AAI) will also face loss in taxes, 10% of what airlines are losing.

Among the airlines, Indigo, Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet will face the majority of loss as they occupy 80% market share in the local traffic here.

An Indigo official said their average passenger load, including departure and arrival, was 50,000 per month last year. “This 20 days closure means we will lose close to 30,000 passengers, which is huge.”

Air India estimates loss of nearly 22,000 passengers with the closure.

Trust deficit with flyers widening, reforms must to restore confidence

An airline official said more than the revenue loss, the closure is leading to trust deficit among the flyers and the airlines.

“There is now a general impression that flying from Chandigarh is unpredictable and uncertain. This must restore in months to come,” he added. Air India’s station manager MR Jindal said all these closures are done to fasten the increase in runway length and installation of fog-fighting system.

“We are hopeful that once the repair work is completed, Air India should operate its wide-bodied aircraft ‘Dreamliner’ from here for long haul destinations, which is currently not possible due to inadequate runway length,” he said.

Sanjeev Vashisht, former president, Mohali Industry Association, who had filed PIL for starting international operations from here, said only increase in runway length will not increase traffic.

“We must have 24 hour operation once repair work is over. If it does not happen, international operation that mostly operates during right hours can’t start. This closure exercise will be futile then,” he said. He demanded flight to Canada and Australia soon after the completion of repair work.

The authorities at the airport had told Punjab and Haryana high court that the coming closure would help in completion of runway upgrade and installation of instrumental landing system by 2018 end.

The runway is being upgraded to increase its length from 9,000 feet to 10,400 feet to enable operation of wide-bodied aircraft.

The airport CEO Sunil Dutt said he was very much hopeful to have more international flights and night landing facility once the repair work is over.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 22:07 IST