The Indian Air Force (IAF) has agreed to increase the watch hour timing of Chandigarh International Airport from last week of March. The IAF informed its decision during a meeting which was held on Monday following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Sources said on Monday that soon after work during the next 15-day airport closure, which is likely to happen in May this year, will conclude, the airport will be able to run wide-body aircraft.
The airport will remain closed for 30 days; 15 days twice. The first 15-day airport closure of the airport began on Monday. It will now reopen on February 27.
Senior advocate M L Sareen, amicus curiae who also participated in Monday’s meeting, told Chandigarh Newsline that IAF has agreed to increase the watch hour timing by next month-end when the summer schedule of the airport would come into force.
“It (watch hours) will increase from present 4 pm to 5.30 pm. In the morning, there could be some delay in the arrival of first flight… the first flight could arrive after 7 am,” Sareen said.
Starting from October 3 last year, the runway watch hours for the flight operation is from 5 am to 4 pm. The present NOTAM (notice to airmen) will remain enforced till March 31. Before the NOTAM, the watch hours at the airport were between sunrise and 10 pm.
Last month, the High Court had asked the Air Force officials and senior advocate Sarin to conduct a meeting with all the stakeholders associated with the Chandigarh International Airport to see if the work can be completed at the earliest without any disturbance.
Sarin said another decision which was taken during the meeting was that the second phase of 15-day airport closure which was scheduled to take place in July, will now happen likely in May. “June and July are peak tourist season months. It was decided that the 15-day closure would be preponed and instead of July, the airport would remain closed for 15 days in May,” he said.
Sources told Chandigarh Newsline that there would be another inspection in the month of March at the airport. A senior official said that by the end of this year, most of the upgradation work will be completed by the firm upgrading the runway work.
Officials said that during the meeting, it was informed that the airport will continue to remain closed on Sundays.
When contacted, Chandigarh Airport CEO Sunil Dutt told Chandigarh Newsline that once the second 15-day airport closure will conclude, Chandigarh Airport will be able to operate wide-body aircraft. “The airlines can then start direct flights to destinations like Australia and London. Our airport will come on world map,” he said.