Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chandigarh airport to be closed for 20 days from May 12

Chandigarh: Chandigarh will be aerially cut off from the rest of the world for 20 days this peak summer travel season. The city’s international airport will be closed from May 12 to 31 for expansion work and airlines are up in arms against the decision as it is expected to affect close to a lakh passengers who are to fly in and out of Chandigarh during that period.
“Yes, the airport will remain closed. This is known to airlines in advance so that they can prepare for the same,” said a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official. Chandigarh airport is an Indian Air Force base with a civil enclave for schedule flights that is maintained by AAI.
The airport was closed for a fortnight last month from February 12 to 26 to increase the length of its 9,000-feet runway by over 1,200 feet to all wide body commercial aircraft operations from here. The remaining expansion work is going to be undertaken during the 20-day closure in May.
Airlines say they had been requesting authorities to do the same before or after the peak travel season. The Federation of Indian Airlines had been taking this issue up.
In the current winter schedule, Chandigarh sees 24 domestic and three international flights daily, said an AAI official. “The number of daily schedule flights is proposed to go up to 32 from the coming summer schedule which will kick off from the last Sunday of March. With the airport remaining closed for 20 days and 32 flights (domestic plus international), almost 1 lakh passengers will be affected,” said an airline official. Apart from domestic flights to the metros, Leh, Jammu and Srinagar, Chandigarh has direct connectivity to international destinations like Dubai and Sharjah.
With the recent declaration given by Airports Authority of India in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on installation of CATIII-B Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the airport, hopes for opening the night flying corridor for wide-body aircraft have been raised.
13/03/18 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India