Money wasted, why not close Chandigarh airport: High court
The high court also said that it would seek from Air India sector-wise details of its international operations and the revenue to ascertain whether other flights being run by Air India are commercially viable.punjab Updated: Sep 26, 2018 10:13 IST
Miffed over Air India’s response that it won’t resume Chandigarh-Bangkok flight, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday said that public money to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore has been wasted by the Centre as international operations were started without any plan for development of the airport.
Currently, the number of total flights from the airport are 35, including two international flights to Dubai and Sharjah. Chandigarh- Bangkok flight was discontinued for Haj pilgrimage in July but now the airline say it won’t be resumed.
The airport terminal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015. However, international flights could start in September 2016. The operation was restricted from October 2017 for runway upgrade and it has since been closed twice for the same.
The runway is being upgraded to increase its length from 9,000 feet to 10,400 feet to enable operations of wide-bodied aircraft.
The high court asked the Air Force to expedite the work to make extended runway operational before March 2019 without compromising on safety.
The high court bench of chief justice Krishna Murari and justice Arun Palli was hearing a PIL filed in 2015 on poor infrastructure at the airport.
Court to seek details from Air India
The high court also said that it would seek from Air India sector-wise details of its international operations and the revenue to ascertain whether other flights being run by Air India are commercially viable.
The observation was made as Air India told the court that it had decided to discontinue the Chandigarh-Bangkok flight as it was not commercially viable.
The court rejected the affidavit filed by station manager and said that higher officials would have to respond on the issue.
The court observed that there appears to be some vested interest at play, which do not want proper development of the airport and some private players too are withdrawing the flights from the airport.
Air India initially withdrew flight stating that it would be used for Haj pilgrimage, the court said, adding that now it was arguing that flight was not financially viable. “...why the Centre is bailing out Air India every now and then, if it is not interested in running flights?” the high court bench observed, further adding that if the airport was to run in this manner, it should be closed. .
Constructions in vicinity may go
The high court also asked Centre to apprise it on Wednesday about the height, which can be allowed of buildings etc, constructed in the flight path. It came down heavily on Zirakpur municipal council for allowing the construction in the vicinity of airport and observed that it would order demotion to be carried out in the presence of executive officer under whose tenure the buildings came up.
At one point, the court was to order demolition of all structures within 100 meters of the airport. However, later deferred the hearing for Wednesday.
First Published: Sep 26, 2018 10:13 IST