Thursday, December 28, 2017

Airport expansion plans fail to take off

Mohali: The Chandigarh International Airport, which has courted controversy since the new terminal was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi in 2015, continued to make headlines in 2017.
While the much-awaited Chandigarh-Bangkok international flight finally took-off, the airport remained mired in problems related to runway repair, gold seizures, lack of an instrument landing system and amenities for passengers.
Runway repair foils expansion plans
The expansion plans went into a tailspin as curtailment of watch hours at the airport disrupted operations due to runway upgradation. Over 10-11 flights were cancelled in the schedule due to change in watch hours, reducing the number of flights operating at the airport to 26. The runway repair work includes re-carpeting and increasing the runway length from 9,000 to 11,400 feet to accommodate wide bodied aircrafts that would connect Chandigarh to long distance flights to destinations like Canada, UK and Europe.
Passengers were hassled as the airport remained partially operational (5 am to 4 pm) six days of the week and no flight operated for civil operations on Sunday. The consequence has been a 15-20 per cent drop in footfall and the situation is likely to continue next year.
Airport Authority has already announced closure of airport for a 15-day period in February 2018. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a reply from Northern Railways on whether it could press into service more trains in view of closure of airport.
The passengers may have to make alternate travel plans as runway repair work is expected to be complete by the end of 2018. The main challenge would be to make the airport operational for 24 hours like in Tier 1 cities.
28/12/17 Tribune