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Chandigarh airport closed for two weeks from Sunday

No flight will operate during the period, affecting an average of 4,000 passengers a day.

punjab Updated: Feb 09, 2018 09:44 IST
Vivek Gupta and Ifrah Mufti
Vivek Gupta and Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh airport,Flights to chandigarh,Chandigarh flights
The runway’s length is being increased from 9,000 feet to 10,400 feet to enable operation of wide-bodied aircraft. (HT File)

The Chandigarh International Airport will remain closed for two weeks, from February 12 to 26 , due to ongoing runway upgrade work.

Airport’s official spokesperson, Deepesh Joshi said no flight will operate during the period, affecting an average of 4,000 passengers a day.

“The announcement for airport’s closure was made in December 2017, allowing passengers enough time to adjust their travel plans. It’s a short-term inconvenience for modernising the airstrip for the airport’s future expansion. The operations will resume on February 27,” he said.

The airport operates 28 flights, three of them to Dubai, Sharjah and Bangkok. The remaining operate on the domestic circuit between Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Srinagar, Leh, Jammu and Jaipur. Ten flights cater to Delhi alone with an average load of 750-800 passengers a day.

The runway is being upgraded to increase its length from 9,000 feet to 10,400 feet to enable operation of wide-bodied aircraft, that will enable air carriers to connect the city with destinations in Europe, US and Australia.

Traffic to move to rail, buses, taxis

With suspension of air traffic here, passengers are expected to fly from Delhi, or switch to trains, buses and taxis.

A local travel agent, Vineet Sharma, said though the next nearest airports were in New Delhi and Amritsar, most of the air travellers had shifted to Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in the capital, as it had more flight options for both domestic and international destinations.

With limited transportation to IGI Airport via public buses, private taxi services are expected to see more business.

Ashish Singla, owner of a private taxi firm in Chandigarh, said mostly only luxury buses ply to the airport, but they have limited seat capacity, while railways is not a favourable mode for journey, as trains terminate far from the airport.

As such, most of the passengers will depend on private taxis, whose operators may increase their prices by 15% to 20% due to rise in demand, he said.

The current to and fro fare between Chandigarh and Delhi airport varies between ₹2,000 and ₹2,500 depending on the size of the vehicle.

A spokesperson for Ola, a mobile app-based taxi service, that provides inter-state taxi service, said they had not increased the charges so far, as Chandigarh-Delhi was the most-taken route.

Passengers want increase in luxury bus service frequency

Haryana Roadways runs 22 Volvo buses from Chandigarh to the IGI Airport in various time slots between 12:05am and 11:15pm. Besides, nine Volvo buses operate till the Kashmere Gate bus stand in New Delhi.

The buses depart from platform number 11, Chandigarh ISBT, Sector 17, and drop the passengers at the public transport centre, near Centaur Hotel, T3, IGI Airport, New Delhi. From there, free shuttle service is available for T3 and T1.

Punjab Roadways runs nine Volvo buses to the capital between 7:40am and 9pm, but does not have connectivity to the airport.

Online booking of Volvo buses can be done on the Haryana Roadways and Punjab Roadways websites that offer various payment options. An extra charge of ₹25 is imposed for online booking that is open till five hours before departure. Passengers need to reach the bus stand 15 minutes before the departure with a printout of the ticket.

Vineet Verma, a frequent traveller from Chandigarh, who runs an event management firm, said the airport closure will lead to harassment of passengers, as private taxi operators will charge them more due to increase in demand.

“Public transport authorities should make efforts to increase the frequency of luxury public bus service, as travelling by road was far more convenient to reach the airport than by train,” he added.

No extra coaches for now: Railways

Currently, three Shatabdi trains ply between Chandigarh and New Delhi railway station in different time slots on weekdays, often with full occupancy. The frequency is reduced to two trains on Sunday. Besides, six to seven different trains run till Delhi Sarai Rohilla railway station, Old Delhi Railway Station and Delhi Cantt railway station on all days.

Parveen Gaur Dwivedi, senior divisional commercial manager (DCM), Ambala division, said, “We have not made any extra arrangements so far. Several trains, besides the Shatabdis, often run vacant, and can be utilised by the passengers. Anyway in our daily exercise, if a certain train sees more passengers than the limit, we add additional coaches.”

First Published: Feb 09, 2018 09:44 IST