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Pune airport accorded international status
December 13, 2005 00:11 IST
Last Updated: December 13, 2005 00:20 IST
Pune airport secured international status on Monday with national carrier Air India beginning a direct flight to Dubai from the city.
The inaugural flight by Airbus, having a capacity to carry 200 passengers and about nearly ten tonnes of cargo, was flagged off by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on his 65th birthday.
"Pawar's birthday was chosen for the inaugural international flight from Pune as a token of my love and respect for the party President Sharad Pawar," Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patil said.
He said Indian (Indian Airlines' new name) would begin a direct flight from the city to Singapore on Tuesday. The inauguration of the Pune-Singapore flight would be done by Prathibha Pawar, wife of the Union Agriculture Minister.
Patel said that in the next five to seven years, an investment of as much as Rs 1.5 lakh crore would be made in the civil
He added that the cargo complex of the Pune airport and the terminal building would be expanded. Besides, the airport which would be now operational for 24 hours would also have night landing facilities, to be installed within another four to six months.
Patel said there were plans to start a direct flight from Pune to the United Kingdom next year and improving air connectivity between Mumbai and district headquarters in Maharashtra like Solapur and Kolhapur.
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said for many years demands have been made for increasing the watch hours at the Pune airport and for better air connectivity from the city.
"For some reasons, they could not be met," he said, reminding that Pune airport happened to be a very important base of the IAF entrusted with the responsibility of protecting Mumbai, Gujarat and many other places in the region.
Pune airport is the base for Indian Air Force's Sukhoi and Jaguar fighters.
He said until the plan to have an international airport at Chakan in Pune district becomes a reality, the Pune airport hopefully would continue to serve the people.
"Some technical problems had surfaced with regard to the plan to have an international airport at Chakan. However, they would surely be resolved," Pawar said, adding in all probability the people of the city would have a new modern international airport, equipped with cargo and other facilities at Chakan in the near future.
Pawar also said on the lines of Nagpur, direct Haj flights would be leaving from Pune airport too from next year onwards.
V Thulasidas, Chairman-Managing Director of Air India, said the Pune-Dubai direct flights would fly thrice a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
He said if the response was found to be encouraging, the frequency would be increased to make it a daily affair.