Union minister Jayant Sinha today said the Centre wants to make Chandigarh a hub of regional air connectivity, from where airlines can operate flights to smaller towns and cities.
About operating more international flights from Chandigarh, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation said the airlines are free to decide on this.
"For expansion of the Chandigarh International Airport, we are taking many steps. Two international flights are operating. As and when passenger load increases, you will find more frequency of international flights," he told reporters here on the sidelines of 15th edition of the Indian School of Business Leadership Summit.
The summit was inaugurated by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today.
Sinha said, "We are trying to make Chandigarh a hub for northern region. As flights increase, we feel smaller cities like, Pathankot, Jammu, Srinagar and Shimla can get connected from Chandigarh."
"We are encouraging (operating) smaller aircrafts like nine seater, 19 seater and even helicopters to smaller towns," the Union minister said.
Notably, with the regional connectivity scheme UDAN, the government aims at connecting 45 unserved and under-served airports and make flying affordable by capping fares at Rs 2,500 for half of the seats in one-hour flights.
Sinha said, "We hope that new routes will get covered and hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh and, Jammu and Kashmir will get connected. Then, in times to come, Chandigarh will become regional hub for such services."
About night operations from the Chandigarh airport, he said, "It depends on demand. As flights increase, we will give whatever facility is required, including night hours." About having more international flights from Chandigarh, Sinha said, "If they (airlines) want to operate flights to London, Birmingham, Toronto, they are free to do so and we will encourage this."
To another question, the minister said, "We will certainly provide all facilities that they need to be able to operate flights from Mohali to any destination. We are continuously upgrading our airports. Wherever the requirements are, we are fulfilling those as quickly as possible." About some stretches of the road from Mohali to the international airport being in bad shape, Sinha said the Centre will request the government to repair it at the earliest.
"As far as Chandigarh airport itself is concerned, you have seen that it has got a new terminal. It (the airport) is being reconstructed, it has a world class terminal. Similarly, across the region, whether it is Pathankot, Ludhiana, our works in terms of new airports or renovation of airports are in full swing," Sinha said.
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