CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he would soon meet the chief of air staff, Army chief and the Union aviation ministry officials and demand installation of CAT-III Instrument Landing System (ILS) facility at the Chandigarh international airport.
Speaking at the conclave ‘Mohali as next big IT hub of the North’, organised by TOI at Software Technology Parks of India’s (STPI) Mohali offices, he agreed that people face a lot of inconvenience while travelling to and from Chandigarh during winter and in foggy conditions. Chandigarh airport has CATII facility in which an aircraft cannot land if the visibility is less than 350 metre.
He added that he would seek permission from Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa to use Air Force airfields across Punjab for 20-seater small aircraft to promote air connectivity across Punjab.
Answering a question by businessman Alok Ramsisaria, the chief minister reasoned, “In Amritsar we have a CAT-III airport and you can land in very low visibility conditions. Here, we don’t have that facility because it is an Air Force station. They just have those straight forward landing facilities. So we have to have something here.” He also said, “There is a second runway (at Chandigarh) being spoken about to make it a little lengthier and stronger to take the heavier aircrafts that are coming in.”
The case for construction of a new parallel runway that would be CAT-III-complaint and could be used for military as well as civil operations, is already being considered by the Union defence minister, the civil aviation ministry and the Punjab government. After the new parallel runway comes up, both runways could be used simultaneously.
The chief minister said since he himself was a pilot and understood the importance of a CAT-III airfield. “If the Air Chief agrees, we’ll probably take it up with the civil aviation to bring CAT-III to Chandigarh. That is essential. Otherwise having an international airport which is shut two days in a week is no point,” he emphasised.