The Chandigarh airport would be a completely certified international airport by August 2019 and its runway would be made available for night operations as well, a senior Indian Air Force official said today.
The IAF was executing a multi-phase plan to upgrade operational facilities at the airport, Air Commodore S Srinivasan, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), 12 Wing, Air Force Station, Chandigarh, said at a press conference here.
"By Feburary 2019, this runway should be ready for all types of aircrafts (including long haul wide bodied ones) and by that time taxi links, dispersal area too will be ready.
"By August, you will have this as a completely certified international airport and its runway will be made available for day and night operations," he said.
"The physical length of the runway will be 12,400 feet and what we call take off distance available will be 10,400 feet, which is good enough for all types of aircraft.
"I would say any aircraft below the Airbus 380 and Airbus 340 can operate on our runway. However, this would depend on expansion of CHAIL (Chandigarh International Airport Limited) terminal to house these aircraft and have requisite number of bridges and other facilities to handle big aircraft," he said.
The first phase of of the runway repair was carried out from February 12 to 26 and the airport remained shut for all flights. The second phase of closure was from May 12 till May 31.
While there were no civilian flights during this period, the IAF aircraft were relocated to alternative air bases in the region to continue operational tasks.
Chandigarh base primarily houses transport aircraft responsible for air maintenance of the northern sector and other communication duties.
The airport lies in defence airfield that is increasingly being used by civilian operators. The Air Traffic Control and runway operations lie with the IAF.
After completion of the second phase of runway re-carpeting/repair work in May, the effective runway length would increase to 10,400 feet from 7,200 feet.
"The work on runway was undertaken in 3-4 phases and multiple layers of bitumen are being put. Additional ramp costing is coming to Rs 2 lakh per night as the runway has to be kept operational.
"If we close the runway for the entire year, then against Rs 450 crore, we would have saved Rs 250 crore, but that is not the option we have," he said.
The IAF officer said unusual weather conditions this month, including unseasonal rains, had made the runway repair work more challenging.
Touching upon the importance of this base, he said, "This is the biggest air logistics base in India, more so for the armed forces. The entire sustenance of Jammu and Kashmir, starting from Srinagar, right up to the reaches of Karokaram and the Aksai Chin is looked after by this base."
"The military aeroplanes that operate from this base -- you have the C17s, IL-76, AN32s, MI-26 and a host of other military aircrafts -- that come here from different bases operate out of this base.
"The entire mechanism of restricted hours, restricted watch periods directly impacts the supply of basic sustenance equipment material for the Army and the military forces deployed on the borders," he said.
Replying to a question, he said around 29,000 tonnes of tonnage was supplied annually to Jammu and Kashmir from here.
Air force sorties from the base to northern region were 10-15 per day and they were being operated from Ambala till May 31.
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