With the fares of flights from the city to Delhi and other parts of the country skyrocketing during the recent Jat agitation in Haryana, the need of operating international flights from the Chandigarh Airport has now come into focus again.
The vehicular and rail traffic in the city was disrupted for several days after the agitators blocked the roads on the national highway connecting the city to New Delhi. It resulted in fares soaring up to more than Rs 30,000 for flights from Chandigarh to Delhi. The passengers traveling aboard had to spend huge amounts of money to reach the Delhi airport. Many of them even missed their onward flights.
Now, several voices are coming up, demanding that international flights be started immediately. Flight operations from the new terminal had begun on October 19 last year, after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September. Even though the airport has the international tag, no international flight has taken off from the airport so far.
“It is surprising that the Prime Minister inaugurated the airport, but the city residents are yet to see international flights operating from here,” said Baljinder Singh who is heading the Federation of Sector Welfare Association Chandigarh (FOSWAC). “Starting of international flights from Chandigarh Airport is the need of the hour.”
He added that people had to spend lakhs of rupees after the highway was closed during the recent agitation. “It would have provided relief to the passengers if the international flights were available at our own airport,” said Singh.
Industrialist Arun Mahajan said the issue of starting international flights from the airport had been politicised. “Some people know their business would get affected once the flights would start from Chandigarh,” he told Chandigarh Newsline. “International flights should be started without any delay from our airport,” he added.
The city-based tour operators too believe a huge number of passengers would be benefitted if international flights would start from Chandigarh Airport.
“Everyday, we see at least 3000 passengers from this region travelling to Delhi to take onward flights,” said Vinod Sharma, director of city-based Venus Holiday Mart.
Sharma added that during the recent agitation, a lot of passengers rescheduled their tickets because they couldn’t reach to Delhi. “We don’t have any facility of international flights here. It would have helped passengers if this option was there,” he said.
Recently, the Civil Aviation Ministry was directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to file a status report before March 10 on requests from various airlines to start international flights from Chandigarh.
Chandigarh International Airport Ltd CEO Sunil Dutt had informed the court that efforts were being made to get every required facility from the Union ministry. The court was informed that the Punjab government had received proposals from Bulgarian airline, namely BH Air, and Flydubai, a Saudi Arabian airline, to start flights from Chandigarh.
On Monday, Dutt told Chandigarh Newsline that the proposal was with the civil aviation ministry and they would have to give clearance to the international carriers. “We have everything ready for the international airport. The airlines have to come forward now,” he said.