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Punjab to be most air-connected state

State will have three international and four domestic airports.

JATINDER PREET  Ludhiana | 3rd Aug 2013

Chandigarh airport

unjab is all set to become the most air-connected state in the country with feasibility studies being carried out for four new airports. The landlocked state with only 1.3% geographical area of the country, already has two airports operating domestic and international flights — at Ludhiana and Amritsar —besides the one in Chandigarh.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which has been entrusted with the task, has already begun the preliminary work. This follows the Central government's announcement of setting up 51 new low-cost airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The initial announcement listed Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Ferozepur in Punjab. In July, a four-member AAI team toured Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Patiala to study the economic and technical feasibility of constructing low-cost domestic airports.

At present, the Guru Ram Das International Airport in Amritsar operates both domestic and international flights. The Chandigarh airport, which currently operates domestic flights, is being expanded to develop into an international airport.

Work is also on for another international airport nearby at Macchiwara, which is being developed by Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited in association with Changi International Airport of Singapore. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had recently announced that the state has a roadmap of having an airport every 100-km.

The state government has been keen to have domestic flights operational from the Bathinda airbase, besides having sent a proposal to allow civil flights at the Adampur defence airport near Jalandhar. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has responded with the announcement of two more at Ferozepur and Ludhiana. Later Patiala too was added to the list. Ludhiana already has a small airport at Sahnewal, waiting for upgrade. Jalandhar has an airbase in Adampur, which can be used to build a civil terminal. Patiala is also being considered as it already has a flying academy with an operational runway. In Ferozepur, there is an airstrip at Fattuwala village, which has been in disuse since the 1971 war with Pakistan when it was built.

If all goes according to the plan, Punjab will have three international airports in addition to four domestic airports.

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