Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 7
Chandigarh is set to witness its first-ever international flight on October 19. IndiGo's Dubai-bound A320 will take off over a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the new international airport — a joint venture of the Airports Authority of India, Punjab and Haryana — coming up in Mohali on September 11.
However, the airline is yet to get a slot at the Dubai airport, hence the delay of over a month. Official sources say the airline is expected to apply for a slot this week. Once the flight to Dubai becomes operational, passengers from the region will get direct access to western countries and west Asia.
Vishwajit Khanna, principal secretary, civil aviation, Punjab, said SpiceJet has also been allowed by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to operate international flights from Chandigarh. “It should begin its operations by the year-end. We are also trying to rope in other airlines that can fly from Chandigarh to Bangkok or Singapore, which will help local passengers get connected to the rest of East, South East Asia and other southern countries,” he said.
While the Rs 452-crore new airport is ready to become operational, the controversy over its name is yet to be resolved. Though Punjab has told the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation that the airport, because of its location in Mohali, should be called Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport, Mohali, Haryana has reportedly objected to “Mohali” being added to its name.
Having an equal equity in the international airport, the Haryana government has reportedly told the Civil Aviation Ministry that they were fine with the airport being named after a national icon, but did not want it to include Mohali in its name.
However, Amit Arya, media adviser to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, said the name of the airport was yet to be finalised. “Since the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the airport is called Chandigarh International Airport Limited, Haryana would want the airport to be named Chandigarh International Airport,” he said.
But, Punjab claims that the airport’s name has been unanimously passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and thus cannot be changed.
Sources say a final decision will be taken by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and will be announced only after the airport is inaugurated by the Prime Minister.
The Airports Authority of India has a 51 per cent stake in the airport, while the remaining 49 per cent is held equally by Punjab and Haryana. The airport’s name has been mired in controversy since its conception because of which the SPV created for construction of the airport — after the tripartite agreement was signed — was called Chandigarh International Airport Limited.
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