Punjab poised for an airport boom: Mohali, Bathinda, Ludhiana, more

SHauKeeN GaBRu

Chardi Kala
Punjab poised for an airport boom: Mohali, Bathinda, Ludhiana, more
Written by Jasbir Singh
AMRITSAR/LUDHIANA: The Punjab government has sent a proposal to the civil aviation ministry for setting up an international airport in Mohali — the second in the state after Amritsar — near Chandigarh. The state government also proposes to develop Bathinda, an air base station, and the airport in the industrial town of Ludhiana, which gets one flight a day, into full-fledged domestic airports.

“The work for Mohali airport entails building an international terminal near the existing Chandigarh station of the IAF,” said a senior Punjab civil aviation official who was in Delhi a few days ago to discuss the proposal with the ministry and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The airports at Mohali and Bathinda are proposed to be developed by the AAI while Ludhiana airport is likely to be developed through a private-public partnership.

“We will use the domestic terminal and the airstrip of the Chandigarh airbase, which will be on the other side of the newly built international terminal,” said the official. The runway, around 9,000 ft, can handle passenger aircraft.

An airport in Mohali is considered viable as Amritsar airport has already absorbed a lot of international traffic of Delhi airport. As a result, Amritsar airport has seen a huge increase in the number of international passengers.

Although the number of international passengers at Amritsar airport (0.48 million for 2006-07) are just 7.33 per cent of Delhi’s 6.6 million, the former has grown much faster.

In June, the number of international passengers at Amritsar airport grew 37.4 per cent over the corresponding month of previous year. For Delhi, the increase was only 6.9 per cent.

“A majority of international passengers in Delhi are NRIs from Punjab. They would prefer taking a direct flight to their respective places,” said an industry expert, adding, “Having more airports in the northern region will also decongest Delhi airport.”

Punjab has also witnessed a rise in the number of international flights. For instance, Malaysian Airlines started flights to Amritsar last year. Flight movement in the city increased by 61.2 per cent in March this year while the international traffic at Delhi airport grew a mere 10.6 per cent during the period.

“With such growth figures, a second international airport in Punjab will help absorb the additional number of passengers and flights,” said an industry expert.

In the northern region, only Delhi, Amritsar, Jaipur and Varanasi have active international airports. Airports in Lucknow and Srinagar also get international flights, but very few.

A large number of people from Punjab travel to and from key international destinations in Canada, the US, the UK, South-East Asian countries and West Asia.

SHauKeeN GaBRu

Chardi Kala
u mean Doha???
Emirates and Etihad are considering starting frm Dubai nd Abu Dhabi respectively...je ae donno shuru hogaye, thn thy gonna be successful, bcoz thy have many connecting flights to UK, US and also Canada...naale ppl will get to make a stop here and do some shopping :D