Chandigarh to become international gateway

Sunil Dutt, director of Chandigarh airport, said: "We have got confirmation from Fly Dubai. They have got permission from the union civil aviation ministry to fly a daily direct flight to Dubai from Chandigarh."

"The first international flight to Dubai will fly from here somewhere in the last week of July and the ticket rate is kept around Rs.3,500 to 3,600," Dutt said.

Fly Dubai is a low-cost carrier of Emirates Airlines.

Chandigarh International Airport will replace the old domestic Chandigarh airport as the region's second international airport after the Raja Sansi International Airport in Amritsar.

The new airport is likely to give a big boost to the region's economy and facilitate travel for a large number of non-resident Indians (NRIs), who currently use New Delhi's Indira Gandhi international airport. It would largely serve the international passengers from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Dutt added: "Getting an international flight is a matter of great pride for us and at the same time an opportunity to prove our worth and capabilities before the world. The moment I received this proposal, I immediately said yes as I do not want to lose any international flight."

He said that this would certainly give Chandigarh airport the right base to develop as a full-fledged international airport in the coming months. The international airport is being extended on 306 acres of land in Jheorehri village, near Mohali, and its construction work is going on for the last many months.

"One thing is for sure that international passengers have to compromise some of their privileges while boarding a flight from Chandigarh as we are still in the nascent stage. In many aspects, we lag behind international airports and these things are not hidden from anyone," Dutt said.

"However, our new ultra modern building equipped with all the facilities of international standards is under construction and work is going on at very good pace. Hopefully by Oct 31 it will be ready for use and then we can attract more international flights to Chandigarh," he said.

"The area of the new building will be five times more than the previous one. After 1974, it is for the first time that Chandigarh airport is undergoing such a big scale renovation," Gagan Malik, construction in-charge of the new building of Chandigarh International Airport, said.

He said: "It would be all air-conditioned, equipped with escalators and special facilities for physical challenged persons. The present building can accommodate only around 100 passengers but the new building can accommodate around 400 passengers."

Atul Sareen, managing partner of Sky Airways, a registered international travel agency with its offices in Chandigarh and the US, told IANS: "There is a big rush of passengers who want to travel to Dubai from this part of the region so this flight is expected to get a good response."

"However, the ticket rates cannot stay at Rs.3,500 or so. They would certainly increase it after some times or they may be offering it as an introductory fare. To and fro air fare from Delhi to Dubai is somewhere around Rs. 16,000-16,500," he said.

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