Bengaluru-based private airlines Jetsmart on Monday announced that it will start operations on the Ludhiana-Delhi route from Sahnewal airport beginning September 1. The airline will offer services twice a day on all days except Saturday and Sunday.
“The air connectivity from Ludhiana to Delhi was a long- pending demand of industrialists here. The duration of flight would be of 75 minutes,” said Angad Dhaliwal, business development head, Jetsmart. The airline will ply its eight-seater Beechcraft B200 King Air aircraft that has seven business class seats and one economy class.
While the development marks a reversal in fortunes for the airport, city residents are sceptical. Earlier, in 2010, Air India started an ATR aircraft from Ludhiana-Delhi but discontinued it in May 2014, citing erratic bookings, low passenger volume, inadequate facilities at the airport, among other reasons.
The airport does not have night landing facility and a 1.5-km runway is too small for a big aircraft.
Spread over 12 acres, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in 2013 had, under ‘Mission Ludhiana’, announced an ambitious plan to develop an ‘Aero-City’ and expand Sanhewal airport.
“Within a year and a half, Ludhiana will witness landing of Boeings with full fledged international airport,” he had said. In May 2014, the then Public works development (PWD) minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon announced again that the airport will be expanded. Two days later, Air India began withdrawing its service gradually.