Sunday, July 05, 2020

Airport keeps international status, thanks to Covid crisis

Mohali: Left with a single overseas flight, it seemed inevitable that Chandigarh International Airport would lose its international airport status. However, evacuation flights necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic gave the airport a temporary breather. Flights under the Vande Bharat Mission came from Ukraine, New Zealand, Dubai, USA, UAE and Kuwait. Had it not been for these, Airports Authority of India (AAI) had no plans to get new international connections for Chandigarh.

Before imposition of lockdown, Chandigarh Airport was left with just one international connection to Sharjah. Flights also departed from Chandigarh to Bhutan, Canada and UK with students and foreign nationals under the evacuation mission. Though they were special flights, Chandigarh international Airport did have connectivity with countries like Ukraine, USA, New Zealand, Bhutan, Canada, Kuwait and UK. Earlier, the airport only had connectivity with Bangkok, Sharjah and Dubai but flights to Bangkok and Dubai were discontinued last year owing to non-viability.

The ministry of aviation also refused to give connectivity to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Three years ago, local MP Kirron Kher requested the Central government to give connectivity to ASEAN countries, but the request was declined.
05/07/20 Barinderjit Saluja/Times of India

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