Chandigarh international airport chief executive officer Sunil Dutt talks to Indian Express about the preparations for the first international flight on September 26
Is the international airport ready for the first flight? Yes, we are prepared. All the facilities are in place. Immigration and customs department are ready. I don’t think there should be any problem.
What is the potential of this airport and how this flight will bring a change for the future? The potential is very high. We can expect more flights. It’s a very difficult question to answer how many more flights will start after this flight. Other airlines will definitely get interested. So this will be the test flight for international journey. This airport is ready for medium aircraft, which are called narrow-bodied. For wide-body aircraft, this airport may take some time because the construction of runway extension is being done by the Indian Air Force. If we talk about today, the present aircraft which can be operated from Chandigarh airport can go up to 5,000 km. Those destinations which can come within 5,000 kilometres can fly direct from here. Businessmen and investors can fly direct. Whenever connectivity increases, business increases. It is a known phenomenon that economy of areas near the airport is always better than the other places.
Any plans to have direct flights to Canada, Europe or US with passenger traffic from the region to these areas being high? Yes, this is true that our basic traffic is for Europe, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand. Most people from this region usually fly to these areas. However, these destinations are beyond 5,000 km. So, we will not be having any direct flight to these destinations.
What is the alternative? To use hubs, for this purpose. Go to Delhi and take a flight to these areas. We have other hubs like Dubai. Our target is to eye those airlines which have flights to these hubs.
What challenges do you see in the coming days? Fog is one of the major challenges. For IndiGo, however, fog should not be a problem as the timing of their flight is around 4 pm. I don’t think there are any other challenges because our airport is ready.
How many international carries have shown interest? There are two-three international airlines which have shown interest to fly.
When will facilities at the airport be upgraded to international standards? Within one year duty-free shopping arcade will be there. We’ll install wi-fi by March next year. We have installed an ATM and tenders have been floated for nine more ATMs. We can’t force anyone to come and install ATM. We have floated tenders and they can come and participate in the process.
What about affordable transport facilities from the airport? There is no problem of transport. There is a bus service available, private cars are there. It is one of the airports where you have city bus service inside the airport. We have plans to start a prepaid taxi service which will be controlled by the Mohali police. About the eateries, within one year, there will be more options. Very soon you will have large retail and F&B space. We are expecting this by March or June.