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Message started by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:52

Title: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its flights
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:52

An airport crying for upgradation

AMRITSAR is one of the most fascinating cities of North India. The Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh have given this holy city a unique place in the history of the nation. It attracts a large number of tourists, pilgrims and businessmen from all parts of the country and the world, including non-resident Indians of Punjabi origin.

A view of Rajasansi International Airport, Amritsar

Keeping in view the increase in the tourist, business, pilgrim and cargo traffic from various parts of the world, the Airports Authority of India has made plans for the upgradation and development of Amritsar airport at a cost of Rs 128 crore, and Rs 79.26 crore for the first phase has been sanctioned.

It is now increasingly recognised that aviation, far from being a mere mode of transportation for an elite group, is crucial for sustainable development of trade and tourism. In this context, it is vital that airport infrastructure grows in anticipation of the growing needs of the air transport industry. As this is a capital-intensive sector, there is an obvious necessity for perspective planning with a vision for the next 20 years. In fact, civil aviation is today universally acknowledged as a key component of the service-fuelled global economy.

The policy document also mentions that airports, being the nuclei of economic activity, have a significant role to play in the national economy. The quality of airport infrastructure contributes directly to a country’s international competitiveness and the flow of foreign investment. While the cargo carried by air in India weighs less than 1 per cent of the cargo exported, it accounts for 35 per cent of the total value of exports. Better cargo handling facilities lead to enhanced levels of importation, especially of foreign capital goods and high-value items. Likewise, 97 per cent of the country’s foreign tourists arrive by air, and tourism is the nation’s second largest foreign exchange earner.

Airports represent a country’s window to the world. Since passengers form their first impressions about a nation from the state of its airports, it is hoped that Amritsar airport will properly project the rich cultural heritage and strength of the city and Punjab.

The airport at present has Customs and immigration facilities to cater to international flights with a peak-hour capacity of 200 passengers. The existing runway of 2789 metres is suitable for the operation of AB-320 aircraft while the existing apron is capable of accommodating two B-320 planes. The airport is equipped with navigational aids like DVOR, NDB, ILS, VHF and HF facilities. It has the night-landing facility with PAPI approach lights.

The salient features of the project include construction of a centrally airconditioned new terminal building with a plinth area of 14,500 sq metres, in place of the existing 3,000 sq metres terminal building which will be dismantled in phases with a peak-hour capacity of 500 passengers, extension of the main runway from 2789 metres to 3349 metres and strengthening of the existing length for AB-300 operations, construction of four additional aircraft parking bays and a cargo building with a plinth area of 3,500 sq metres. It is learnt that 60 per cent of the expansion work has already been completed. The new terminal building at a cost of Rs. 20 crore is likely to be completed by next year with facilities of ILS (instrumental landing) for its fair weather operations.

After having been granted the status of international airport, passenger traffic at Amritsar has seen tremendous growth, from 12,000 passengers in 2000-01 to 1,12,000 in 2001-02. The consistent growth is encouraging more airlines for seeking permission to use this airport. At present 18 weekly flights operate from Amritsar airport with connections to many cities in Europe, the Middle-East and America. A number of international airlines, including Austrian, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and Air Mauritius, have shown keen interest to operate their flights from this airport.

Indian airports in the past had remained content standing in isolation. Now they must start work to identify themselves with the growing needs and aspirations of the people. An airport is a living entity and it should co-exist with all members of the community, especially the users of its various facilities.

During the past two decades, aviation has emerged as not only an integral part of transportation but significantly the most important too. With the increasing globalisation of economies, liberalisation and technological developments in air transport, new trends are emerging on the horizon.

Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is a living example of how a Rs 2.3 billion project became functional in a record time of six years (1993-99) with contributions from the Kerala Government, financial institutions and the NRIs numbering 10,000 from 30 countries. The airport boasts of having India’s second longest runway. If Kerala could achieve this remarkable feat with the financial assistance from non-resident Indians and others, the Punjab Government may also consider seriously tapping the resources of the NRIs for developing another airport in Punjab. It will Punjab’s economy besides making much easier the visit of the thousands of the NRIs of Punjabi origin. If it is not possible to consider developing another airport, then part-privatisation may be considered for creating.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:53

Amritsar airport has a long way to go
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 21
Is the upgradation of facilities at the Amritsar airport, which has been accorded the status of an international airport, a distant dream?

The answer seems to be in the affirmative if the official figures of the Ministry of Civil Aviation are any indication.

As per official information, only Rs 20.42 crore had been spent on the expansion of the airport to make it an international airport till February 2003, even as this project was envisaged and approved during the prime ministership of Mr H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr I.K. Gujral in 1997. A direct Amritsar-Sharjah flight was also introduced on December 17, 1997.

A former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Badal, while talking to TNS said as per official information, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had spent Rs 20.42 crore on the ongoing construction of the new terminal building, the construction of a cargo complex, re-carpeting of the main runway, and taxi tracks, the extension of the main runway and the construction of an apron, new technical block-cum-control tower and a fire station.

He added that while answering a question put by him, the minister concerned said in Parliament that a provision of Rs 35 crore had been made for the upgradation of the Amritsar airport in the Tenth Five Year Plan. He also pointed out that in all Rs 79.27 crore had been approved for executive major works. He said SAD MPs had been keeping a constant pressure on the authorities concerned to complete the work at the earliest.

At present, the airport has a runway length of 9,150 ft. Customs and immigration facilities are available at the airport for international flights. The terminal building can handle 200 passengers only, while the apron can accommodate two AB-320 and one B-737 aircraft. The airport is equipped with navigational aid like the DVOR, the NDB, the ILS, the VHF and the HF facilities.

Information gathered by TNS reveals that if all goes well, it will take three to four years for the airport to become an international airport, having all modern facilities. It was accorded the status of an international airport on the demand of residents of the Doaba and Majha regions as a large section of people from there had migrated to foreign countries and visited their homeland frequently.

During the chief ministership of Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, the Punjab Government had proposed to set up an international airport in the Doaba region on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road in 1996. A piece of land was also acquired for the purpose. However, the proposal could not move forward.

After becoming the Chief Minister of the state for the third time, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, took interest in the upgradation of the Amritsar airport into an international airport. The additional land required for upgrading the airport was also acquired. However, things moved slowly and this project was not given enough money.

Mr Sukhbir Badal alleged that the Congress government was not doing anything in this regard.

Official sources said Air-India and Indian Airlines had no plans to operate direct flights from Amritsar to destinations in Europe and Canada.

None of the airlines from Europe and Canada had approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation for access to the Amritsar airport for their carriers. However, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had permitted foreign airlines to operate tourist charter flights to and fro from Amritsar as per the existing tourist charter guidelines.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:54

Amritsar airport needs NSG

Mr Ram Kohli is the first Indian elected Secretary/treasurer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), a vibrant body in the region. Founded in 1951, PATA’s public and private membership comprises 100 organisations and thousands of individuals in 80 plus PATA chapter worldwide.

The Chairman and Managing Director of Creative Travel, Mr Ram Kohli says he will endeavour to achieve PATA’s mission of enhancing the growth, value and quality of tourists visiting the country.

The founder President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, Kohli has been involved with several national, international bodies connected with tourism and civil aviation.

There are persons who learn from own mistakes. But Indian civil aviation official continues to be indifferent about safety of men and machinery at national and international airports.

Raja Sansi International Airport (Amritsar), for example, continues to be lacking in security. Situated around difficult and hostile border, the Indian Airlines IC-814 flight was parked here for about an hour before being hijacked to Kandahar. Had there been adequate anti-hijack arrangements at the airport, the passengers and crew could not have undergone all the sufferings. One passenger on board the flight was killed.

For some unknown reasons, the National Security Guard (NSG) has declined to post trained anti-hijack commandos at the Amritsar airport. Why? What are the NSG’s compulsions? According to analysts, the airport continues to be vulnerable for any untoward incident taking place. What is the cause for concern is that Amritsar is currently a destination for some international flights.

This indifference is all the more alarming as Minister of State for Civil Aviation Chaman Lal Gupta on July 2, 2000 had cetegorically stated that the NSG’s squad would be stationed at the Amritsar airport. In the tug-of-war between politicians and bureaucrats. Innocent passengers have to undergo sufferings in emergencies.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:54

Gala event at Amritsar airport on October 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
A three-day gala event to mark the launch of Singapore Airlines first flight to Amritsar on October 1 would be held at Amritsar. This was stated by Punjab Tourism Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang at a meeting held here yesterday to discuss the air linking of Amritsar with Singapore by Singapore Airlines.

Delegates of the international media and business magnates would be invited to showcase Punjab as a tourist destination. Amritsar would be served as a gateway to different places in the region, including Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The minister said the new flight connectivity will help exploit the tourism potential optimally, and the Punjabi Diaspora settled abroad has welcomed it.

Mr D.S Jaspal, Secretary, Tourism, Information and Public Relations Department, Punjab, informed that there were 33 incoming and as many outgoing international flights at the Amritsar International Airport. And the total number of passengers boarding and disembarking per week was 14,850.

He said to improve air passenger traffic at Amritsar, there is need to focus on proper air conditioning of the airport, computerised check-in facility, improved taxi and transport service, regular police patrolling in the airport area etc. This would also help in creating more employment opportunities for the youth in the state, besides increasing the tourist influx.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:55

From café culture of Los Angeles to 'lassi' of Rajasansi
UN takes Rajasansi under its wing; Amritsar on world map
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

A plush palace with ultra-modern cafes, a kaleidoscope of colours weaving a rich tapestry of Phulkari, glistening swords that shine brilliantly when unsheathed, smallish dice with which many a king wagered his kingdom, delicate jingling bangles, tall brass glasses famous for serving Punjabi yogurt "lassi" to guests - it's all set to be "Punjab darshan" complete with cultural and historical snippets for tourists, particularly foreigners, visiting Rajasansi. Punjab Government has selected the historical village of Rajasansi, about 11 km from the holy city of Amritsar, for the Central Government's United Nations Development New Country Programme (UNDNCP).

The project, with the estimated cost of Rs 28 crore, has already been submitted to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. It envisages renovation of the old palace of Rajasansi, setting up of tourist information centres, kala Kendras for artisans, improvement of surroundings, illumination of historical buildings, laying of sewerage.

With the Rajasansi International Airport being upgraded, a visit to Rajasansi village may become even more comfortable and tourism may receive yet another boost. Foreigners, with their penchant for historical yarns and cultural snippets, are apt to find this village just the right place to satiate their inquisitiveness. Already a large number of tourists arrive daily at the holy city of Amritsar. In fact, with the city and the Golden Temple being likely to be granted the "Heritage" status by the UNESCO, Amritsar would soon be on the world tourism map.

 Direct Singapore flight gives new connectivity

Spread over 1100 acres, the Rajasansi International Airport is undergoing massive upgradation these days. The airport can now handle wide-bodied aircrafts, including jumbos, due to the extension and the strengthening of runway, taxi track and apron area.

The airport, which is located a few kilometres from the international border, has started receiving about two lakh passengers from all over the world every year. The passenger traffic is growing with the increase in the number of flights. Mr V.S.Mulekar, Airport Director, says that the passengers' flow is likely to grow by more than 35 per cent annually.

The airport can become a strong economic hub if tourist and cargo potentials of adjoining Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana are fully tapped. Besides the scheduled 38 weekly flights by Singapore, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan connecting to various destinations around the globe, the weekly tourist chartered flights for NRIs and foreign nationals from England and Europe have given impetus to the flow of the passengers.

The recent direct Singapore flight, opening new routes and connections to Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia and even to Canada and the USA, has provided an international edge to the airport. The Singapore Airlines hopes to lift from here every week about 50 tonnes of cargo, including fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy products, hosiery, shawls, leather and sports goods and hand tools. The airport authorities, in collaboration with the local industry, are preparing an export-import potential vision paper, which would open a gateway to the world.

A few problem areas like the Rs 16.80 crore terminal building that was expected to be completed by the end of the last year have been taken up by the authorities. This project had been hanging fire, as the Central Government's undertaking - Hindustan Steel Construction Limited - failed to do the construction work. The authorities have now assigned the task to a new construction company that has taken up the project on war footing. It is expected to be completed by the middle of the next year. It would provide modern décor and facilities, including escalators, conveyor belts, round-the-clock restaurants and coffee shop and other modern amenities.

Interestingly, the cargo complex has already been completed. The next phase, which would have refrigerated block required for the export of fresh vegetables and other perishable goods, is also expected to start soon with the help of the APEDA (Agriculture and Processed Food Export Development Authority).

However, some eyesores and problems still remain. An all-too-visible eyesore for a tourist landing here is the incomplete four-laning of the road connecting the city. The entire route between Amritsar and the airport remains in darkness after sunset.

 Big boost to tourism on cards

A number of international airlines operating from different parts of the world to Amritsar are enticing more than two crore members of the Indian Diaspora, majority of them Punjabis, to visit their roots in India to start a tourism revolution in this part of the region.

According to a study conducted by the Institute of Tourism And Future Management Trends (ITFT), Chandigarh, more than 26 per cent of the 45 lakh international passengers from the Indira Gandhi International Airport are from Punjab. Thereby, 11.4 lakh passengers travel from this region. It is estimated, as per the present trend and surveys, that this region suffers a revenue loss of about Rs 500 crore annually on account of people from this area moving to Delhi to catch international flights. The commencement of the flights by the Singapore Airlines adds a new

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:57

A-I may fly from Amritsar to UK
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told the Rajya Sabha today that the Government was seriously considering putting Kolkata and some other cities on the Air-India map.

The minister’s assurance came after a number of Left party members from West Bengal demanded that Kolkata be immediately put on the Air-India map.

Mr Patel assured Congress member M S Gill that the government would favourably consider commencing operations to certain destinations in UK and Canada from Amritsar airport.

The Minister informed the House that during bilateral civil aviation meetings in September last, India and UK had decided to enhance bilateral air services operations from the existing 19 services per week to 40 services per week.

He said Air-India proposes to add six services to London by next summer, including one in January, subject to availability of slots.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:58

Air Deccan flights start from Dec 27
Ashok Sethi

There's good news for city residents. Air Deccan has decided to launch a daily Delhi-Amritsar-Delhi flight to connect the holy city with the national capital.

The promoter of the airways, Capt. Gopinath, announced that the inaugural flight would take off from Delhi on December 27 at 4 pm and would land at Rajasansi International Airport at 5 pm and after an hour's halt would return to Delhi.

He said that the air fare would be Rs 500 and that the booking would be available through e-mail.

"The airline is already operating at trunk routes. We have decided to connect the major metropolitan towns with the important destinations throughout the country," he added.

The announcement of the flight has generated a tremendous interest in public. Local agents have been receiving numerous inquiries, and the flights, till the first week of January, have already been booked, according to the airways spokesperson.

After the suspension of the Indian Airlines flight connecting the city with Delhi during the militancy period in the 1980s, the starting of the Air Deccan flight had once again provided an air link with the national capital at the most affordable fare, added the spokesperson.

"The Air Deccan would use 48-seater ATR aircraft for the daily flight. It has received a request for extending this flight to Srinagar also," Capt Gopinath informed.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 14:59

Amritsar ill-equipped for tourists
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi
Tribune News Service

Passengers come out of the inaugural Singapore Airlines flight between Singapore and Amritsar at Rajasansi airport in Amritsar on Friday. — PTI photo

Amritsar, October 3
Even as the state government has not made any vision paper to exploit air cargo potential, the Singapore Airlines seems to have taken a calculated risk in launching thrice-a-week direct flight to the holy city.

There is a lot of tourist potential which could be tapped because 26 per cent out of the total 45 lakh international passengers who use Indira Gandhi International Airport are from Punjab and Chandigarh region. It amounts to a business of Rs 500 crore annually. According to a survey conducted by the Chandigarh-based Institute of Tourism and Future Management Trends (ITFT), the business could be tapped by promoting Amritsar’s Rajasansi International Airport. The airport has the potential of becoming the gateway to a major economic boost to the region.

In his paper presented at the interactive conclave sponsored by the Singapore Airlines yesterday, Dr Gulshan Sharma, Director of ITFT, said that Punjab Tourism and Singapore Tourism Board would have to jointly work out marketing strategies to promote tourism and trade in both the countries.

Dr Sharma said many international flights launched by Indian national carriers introduced in the past had to be discontinued as they were not economically viable. However, he said the Singapore Airlines flight could be sustained if the state and central governments worked out to enhance cargo and passenger traffic .

A challenge that Amritsar city faces is the paucity of infrastructure conducive for more such international flights. In case of bad weather or snag in the aircraft, is the available hotel accommodation adequate to handle 300-plus passengers during any such emergency? The accommodation available in class hotels is less than 200 rooms. And most of them remain occupied as Amritsar is one of the five most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. The tourist inflow would swell further in case Golden Temple is declared World Heritage site by Unesco by the next year.

The interactive conclave also explored the possibilities of setting up joint business ventures in the fields of information technology, agro and food processing, housing, urban development and infrastructure, tourism and human resource development.

The Punjab Government has offered to be facilitator to strengthen trade and tourism links between the region and Singapore, said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister. Addressing an interactive session on doing business with Singapore organised by the CII, PHDCCI and Punjab Rice Exporters Association, Mrs Bhattal urged businessmen to upgrade their ventures.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 15:01

Amritsar airport to be upgraded by 2003
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Sharad Yadav, informed the Rajya Sabha today that the upgradation of the Amritsar airport into an international airport is likely to be completed by November 2003.

Replying to a question by Mr B S Ramoowalia, the minister said the reason for the delay in formal government approval and commencement of construction included delay in handing over land for conducting soil test, design and detailed estimation of upgradation work.

The Public Investment Board (PIB) directed to conduct fresh detailed survey regarding the potential for growth of passenger and cargo traffic from Punjab and adjoining areas, which was conducted afresh by the Airport Authority of India.

The PIB was also directed to explore private participation in the project, the minister said.

The project for upgradation at an estimated cost of Rs 79.27 crore with budgetary support by the Centre in debt equity ratio of 1:1 has been approved by the government on November 11, 2000, Mr Sharad Yadav informed the House.

In response to another question, the minister said the navigation and landing aids available at Jammu and Srinagar, including sterilisation of approach funnel are sufficient for safe operation of flights.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has issued a directive to its members not to operate to Jammu and Srinagar from January 26, 2001, unless they are provided with safe operating environment and the airfields meet the basic criteria for jet operations.

Consequently, the Indian Airlines scheduled flights to Jammu and Srinagar airports are being operated by the executive pilots of the airlines.

The Minister for Water Resources, Ms Bijoya Chakravarty, informed the Rajya Sabha that Gohana district in Haryana was receiving its share as per the availability of water during their turns.

Replying to a question by Santosh Bagrodia on whether the farmers in Gohana subdivision of Haryana were facing an acute shortage of canal water meant for irrigation purposes, the minister said the Haryana Government had informed that since the availability of water in the Bhakra Reservoir and the Yamuna river being less, the rotation programme had been divided in to five groups instead of earlier four groups.

All channels falling in the territorial jurisdiction of the Ghona area have been receiving their share as per the availability of water during their turns, he added.

The Minister of State for Finance, Mr Bala Saheb Vakhe Patil, informed the Rajya Sabha that the Home Ministry had already assessed the arrears of security-related expenditure in respect of Jammu and Kashmir for the period 1989-1998 and settled the same as per the existing guidelines for reimbursement of security related expenditure.

The 11th Finance Commission was required to make an assessment of the debt position of all states as on March 31, 1999 and suggested such corrective measures as were deemed necessary, keeping in view the long term sustainability for both the Centre and the states.

The government had since accepted the recommendations of the Finance Commission, the minister said.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by musafir on 11. Nov 2005 at 15:02

MS Gill seeks more flights from Amritsar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
The Rajya Sabha MP and former Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in securing more flight and improvement of airport in Amritsar.

In a letter the Prime Minister, he said “I am surprised at the slow and limited progress of Amritsar. Air India still does not fly through Amritsar, when studies show that almost 50 per cent of passengers at Delhi Airport belong to Punjab.”

“I would, therefore, request that immediately Amritsar should have an Air India flight going to London and Toronto,” he said.

Recently the Civil Aviation Minister had announced a scheme of special flights to the Gulf. “Strangely, these too were to go from Delhi and Mumbai only. This also needs correction and Amritsar should be included,” the letter said.

He also had expressed surprise that British Airways and Virgin, which have planned increase number of flight from the country, have not included Amritsar in their plans, even though Punjabis have the biggest presence in the UK.

Title: Re: Old news reports of Amritsar airport & its fli
Post by Mr dhaliwal(Guest) on 12. Nov 2005 at 14:52

When are people,of punjab and NRIs of punjabi orgin,going to realise ,that if Amritsar airport in the punjab,started to get the likes of, BA,Virgin etc, who would fly to "Delhi".

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