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Cricket stifles Chandigarh airport

Last updated on: March 30, 2011 11:24 IST

Cricket stifles Chandigarh airport

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Vijay C Roy in New Delhi/Chandigarh

Le Corbusier's 'City Beautiful' is seeing an unprecedented rush of private jets and VIP aircraft for the World Cup Cricket semi-final between India and Pakistan at Mohali on Wednesday.

Officials of Chandigarh airport, primarily a military airfield, which shares its runways with the Indian Air Force, say it is a mad scramble for parking space of private planes.

"About 40 requests for landing and parking have been received so far. We can't stop corporates coming to see the match from landing their private jets, but as far as parking is concerned, they have to make their own arrangements."

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Image: Chandigarh Airport.

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The airport authorities have requested all companies to leave their passengers at the airport and go to either Amritsar, Ludhiana or Patiala in Punjab or to Delhi or Dehra Dun to park their aircraft.

Each flight is being given 15 minutes to land and fly back. Officials say private jets might start landing from 6 am on Wednesday.

"Commercial flights would operate as per schedule, they add. Chandigarh airport director H S Toor could not be contacted.

The airport handles 22-26 flights daily (including, landing and takeoff) and 150 passengers at one time.

It has space for parking two civil aircraft and two commercial planes.

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Image: Chandigarh.

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All air traffic control facilities, including navigational and landing aids and other safety measures are handled by the Indian Air Force.

A new terminal building with capacity to handle 500 passengers at a time is in advance stages of completion.

Sources say the technical airport area under the command and control of the Air Force has enough space for parking, but can't be shared because of security concerns as the prime ministers of India and Pakistan would be landing there.

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Image: Fans watching an India Pakistan cricket match.

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Raja Sansi International Airport (Amritsar) Director Suneel Dutt says: "We have received 20 requests from corporate and private charter operators to park their planes, which include Span Air, Eon Airways, Religare, Ashok Leyland group, Welspun group, Raymond Group, Air Charter, AR Airways. Besides, a Kingfisher charter has also requested for parking its Airbus A-319."

Dutt adds: "We handle 26 flights daily, which include landing and takeoff. We are well equipped and can handle any number of flights.

About 35 planes can be parked here."

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Image: PM Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Photographs: Jay Mandal/On assignment
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Sources in Punjab Aviation Department say they have offered parking space for smaller aircraft at Patiala Aviation Club.

"At least six-seven aircraft can be parked here. But there is no night takeoff facility, so aircraft can take off only next day," says a club source.

Smaller aircraft can also be parked at Sahnewal Airport in Ludhiana and Pinjore Aviation Club in Haryana.
Sources say, flight operations would be suspended for about 30 minutes during the landing and takeoff of Prime Minister's aircraft on Wednesday.

In association with Vikas Sharma & Mihir Mishra


Image: Sachin Tendulkar celebrates with team mates after dismissing Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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