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Airlines keen to expand international operations from Chandigarh: Union minister

Chandigarh, September 23: Union minister Jayant Sinha on Friday said all airlines operating in Chandigarh want to run more long-distance and low-cost international flights from here.

Indigo, Air Asia and Spicejet are looking at expanding their operations, “but they need to show me the money”, said the minister of state for civil aviation, while promising to encourage the airlines. Sinha was speaking at the 15th edition of the Indian School of Business Leadership Summit, inaugurated by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, in Mohali.

“Chandigarh will soon find more frequency of international flights,” said Sinha. “The airlines also want to work on the long-haul and low-cost model, which will help bring the fares down.”

Quoting experts, he said the model will bring the cost of a round trip to London down from Rs 40,000-50,000 to Rs 25,000. “We are working on this revolution,” he further said.

Speaking to the media, Sinha said starting night operations at the Chandigarh airport depends on the demand. “As flights increase, we will give whatever facility is required, including night hours,” he said. On the airport naming row, he said whether it should be named after Mohali or Chandigarh is to be agreed upon by Punjab and Haryana governments.

“They need to cooperate on this issue and then we will fulfil that agreement,” he said.

Sinha said the Centre wants to make Chandigarh a hub of regional air connectivity, from where airlines can operate flights to smaller towns and cities. “As flights increase, we feel smaller cities like Pathankot, Jammu, Srinagar and Shimla can get connected from Chandigarh,” he said. “We are encouraging (operating) smaller aircrafts like nine-seater, 19-seater and even helicopters to smaller towns.”

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.

Source: with PTI inputs



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